Social Network – A movie about a lot (most) of us!


How many movies, if one has to count, reflect on our college and career life in the way we experienced them. And still, how many movies, touch upon the common pain of making difficult choices and even more searing pain of living with those choices. Self – Admittedly, they could really be counted on our finger tips.

3 idiots was one of them and it was relate-able by virtue of slices of life it portrayed as part of the large drama that runs as the central theme of the movie. Personally the realization of the fact by the two friends – “that it was the success of the third friend rather than his failure, which generally hurts more”, took the cake for me.

Recently, while in US, I was very reluctantly dragged to watch a movie in Denver downtown – “Social Network”. The movie as I had heard was based on the initial story of Facebook founder – “Mark Zuckerberg”. I was cursing my self, very soon for why I agreed, when I saw a usual date between a boy and a girl of the usual age. I was sure it was going to be some kind of “Chick Flick” inspired by some arbitrary inspiration from Facebook et all.

Suddenly I realized that a girl was delivering an explosive sermon to a gentle”ass” named “Mark Zuckerberg” –You’re going to be successful and rich. But you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a tech geek. I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true: It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”

The movie was set,  and so this unabashed knock out punch delivered and shattered a boyhood ego for Mark which really (?) set him to take the revenge by writing the first ever version of the thefacebook.

However, the movie is not about the “Great” story of  Mark and his(?) “The Facebook”, it is the story about a “Mark Zuckerberg” who eventually is called out as an “aspiring asshole” at the end of the movie by his lawyer, even as he sits on top of 1 billion dollar company.

As I got sucked into the drama, I realized, that this movie captured a large slice of life representing the band of the committed, aggressive entrepreneurs and/or careerists who make uncomfortable choices as they go along. These choices might be on account of friendships, ethics, love, aspiration, selflishness, selflessness and host of other factors which are not valued in any of the financial jargon or grammar.

Mark Zuckerberg evidently displays this trait and is distinctly uncomfortable to a lot of question being posed on his questionable journey as part of the movie. Like him , a lot of us have as part of our growth have been ruthless, tactless, pushy, unrepentant and completely devoid of appreciation of nuances. This we did because we were or we are focussed massively on reaching our goal. This goal might be a short term prize, or a long term one, sustainability of approach hardly bothers us at all.

It is this searing hot perception of immediacy of the opportunity and its rewards that blinds most of us; and as movie depicts, Mark was as very normally attuned to this. His disinterest in his friend’s approach to advertise Facebook was very crass, his unprofessional-ism with not completing the tasks he committed for as in Harvard Connections was intentional, his summary disregard and manipulation of his friend who was an angel investor and provider of the first ever algorithm for his venture bordered on being tactless.

In fact, looking from the girl’s point of view who delivered the original sermon, she was very right in feeling the shame of the facemash caused by Mark as he did by launching his online crass commentary about her. The technical achievement by him in hacking all Harvard servers to download all the female photographs and hence encouraging his friends to play “Who is hotter than the other” !  Fun, Yes, but crashing the Harvard servers and demanding recognition from the Harvard board for the achievement could be a good college fun, but may not be a precursor to what you want to do in post college life.

However, the question is whether these are the essential prices of journey you have to pay (necessary evils), or it is the materialism of the opportunity that puts blinders on the vision of many of them. Once success arrives, most of us would have no difficulty in donning the most reasonable hat, however it is the struggle that tests the capacity of your morals.

I have no answers but I believe even if you take the concious approach of being single minded-ly selfish about your cause, that you need to be ready to listen to what Mark Zuckerberg’s lawyer tells him at the end of the movie

“You’re not an asshole, Mark — you’re just trying so hard to be”!

Well, Amen to that thought, there are lots us  who may fall under that unless watched. Or have we genuinely aspired for this 😉


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Posted on November 8, 2010, in Entrepreneurship, Indian Institute of Management, Movie Review, Social Networking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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