Elaine Gantz Wright is a speaker, writer, and social media strategist, helping neighborhood businesses expand word-mouth-marketing exponentially–driving referrals, repeat business, and revenue.
I saw The Social Network this weekend. The film was entertaining, but I think it lacked the depth and gravitas I expected— especially given the enormous impact of Facebook, the social media phenomenon that has quite literally changed the world.
Facebook is the decade’s Zeitgeist— a global cultural phenomenon, affecting how people share information, communicate, build relationships, promote businesses, live their lives, and even think. In fact, Facebook has become so intertwined with our psyches and daily habits that many people report checking their Facebook pages before brushing their teeth or drinking their first cups of coffee. It’s a social, cultural, and behavioral force – even more than a technological one. As NYU new media professor Clay Shirky says, “Tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”
In the past six years, the world has learned to live out loud.
But still, I feel the producers of The Social Network did not truly comprehend the intellectual significance of their subject matter—the social media revolution, itself. It’s more than the story of a business success and damaged relationships. It seems the anachronistic storytelling medium of film was not equipped to peel the social media onion with much precision. It captured the almost cliché concepts of narcissism and greed as they relate to success. What the film neglected was a deeper exploration a whole new way of interacting and being.
I think the essential irony of the film — social misfit Zuckerberg’s inventing a whole new way of socializing was far more compelling than a seemingly endless stream depositions and legal puffery. I would love to have seen his parents and understood more about his family dynamic and his childhood relationships.
I think his story is actually just scratching the surface. There will be so much more to Mark’s tale–past and present. The opening and closing scenes actually captured some of Zuckerberg’s pathos, but the rest of the film seemed pretty one-dimensional—simply documenting events and allegations.
At his very core, Mark wanted to be part of something, to belong – to be loved.
And isn’t that what we all want? Facebook fills a universal human need in an increasingly impersonal world. It’s so fascinating that Mark Zuckerberg’s naiveté and painful awkwardness gave birth to a communication revolution.
I would even venture to say we could take that twist even further. As I studied the characterization in the film, I could not help by think of Asperger’s Syndrome, the autism-spectrum condition which causes difficulty processing information and relating to people. His off-the-charts intellect, arrogance, laser focus on Facebook, and his debilitating social insecurity seemed textbook. I have read that Albert Einstein and even Bill Gates have exhibited Asberger’s indicators. This just gives more credence to BubbleLife Media CEO Jeff Farris’ theory, “Nerds rule the world.” As Mark said of his creation, “We don’t know what it will be.” Those words apply to Facebook , his personal journey, and the burgeoning social media landscape.
What did you think of the film? Of Zuckerberg? Social media?