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The Real Social Network

October 7, 2010

Will Dudding
The Real Social Network

With his newest film, The Social Network, David Fincher presents us with more than a tale about the creation of Facebook. The man behind Fight Club and Seven gives us a film about friendship, lost romance, and business ethics. It’s about the psychology of a young entrepreneur. This is Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest billionaire in the world. And he’s real and in our time. Fincher and his crew do a heck of a job, too. The film itself has been compared to Citizen Kane. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay weaves effortlessly through multiple time lines. Trent Reznor’s soundtrack inspires and entertains. The acting is superb and break-out roles abound for at least half a dozen stars. It’s Jesse Eisenberg’s biggest film by far, Andrew Garfield will soon take up the role of Peter Parker in the new Spiderman reboot, and Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stars Rooney Mara. Not to mention, we can finally accept Justin Timberlake as a serious actor.

What I find most striking about The Social Network is how it straddles two different worlds: the world we live in today, and the rapidly fading world of the 20th century. Can we still envision a world without Facebook? College life just wouldn't be the same; technology helps define our existence here. Facebook is even linked to the Forum. When this article is published, I’m immediately going to “like” it so it appears on my homepage, in hopes that other people will see it and share it in turn. It has surpassed even e-mail as our primary medium of distributing information.

Facebook has even begun to change the way we think about labels by eliminating life's gray areas. Are we really in a relationship with someone if our homepage doesn’t say so? Maybe, but if we are it certainly isn’t socially acceptable to maintain a “single” status on our page. If a guy moves from New Orleans to Boston as a kid and chooses either location as his hometown, he automatically labels himself as either a Southerner or a Northeasterner. If we don’t select whether we’re interested in men or women, does that make us sexually ambiguous? It really isn’t that much of a stretch.

We don’t live in the same world that we did before Zuckerberg created Facebook.  The advent of the site caused us to neatly compress our personalities and relationships and display them online. Our profiles define us. Even if you decide to be the person with a blank info box, you're making a statement to the Internet world via your profile (you rebel, you). As a film, The Social Network is a marker on a time line telling us that now, for better or worse, we are submersed in a new social network-centered age, and there is no going back.

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