I didn’t think the time was ever going to come where I’d have many positive thoughts about Facebook. While I often declared my adoration for Twitter; its simplicity, practicality and shattering effect it has on hypocrisy of modern tabloidism; Facebook, I wasn’t sold on. Even as early as 2005, when I received a cryptic e-mail from a New York friend that shushly “invited” me to the Facebook universe, when it was barely even coming out from campuses to the real world. “Join, but don’t tell, it’s not for everybody”. With very little usefulness, mostly I viewed it as pointless and annoying. When you’re not a completely anonymous person, Facebook can have somewhat abominable sway on you. But that’s just it, it wasn’t created by a public or popular person, just the opposite.

I can not remember the last time I was so excited to see a movie, as I was for The Social Network’. My longing to dive into the story of how Facebook came to be, was somewhat delayed by everyone and their mother wanting to see it. There was no tickets to be bought, unless you wanted to wait for hours and hours, even the 5 o’clock showings were sold out. Never in my life I waited 3 days to see a movie I really really wanted to see, not even the ever hyped ‘Dark Knight’. I live in Hollywood, for christ sake, it’s a religion to see stuff on the opening night.

The exhilaration I developed about this movie is not just my utter obsession with New Media, Web 2.0 and personal comprehension of Start Ups as the ultimate dream achievement; it’s the rareness of circumstance this movie is allowing us. We often watch or read about epochal matters of the past; but just how many times in life we’ll have an opportunity to see a story that shaped the society we live in at this exact moment? And not just any event, but the one that is the zeitgeist of our generation?

Seeing the very first scene of The Social Network’, you’ll know instantly, this movie is something very special.

It’s like one of those rare moments when absolutely everything falls into the place; the excellent timing, excellent material, excellent filmmakers, excellent cast. The music by notorious Trent Reznor is off the wall. And the trio of David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg is pure perfection. In the times where we’re swamped with film industry’s obsession with action, 3D, CGI’s and heavy productions; to see a movie so sharply written, with dialogs that shoot like a bullet, with such skilled narration, editing and switching antagonist and protagonist as the movie goes along – just sublime material.

Such that I felt suspense watching the guy burn trough code, drunk, in the middle of the night.

I’m not kidding.

As to the controversy of the accuracy of the real story – I just don’t get what all the hype is about. Not one filmmaker involved in the project ever said they’re doing a documentary or their script is play by play of real events. The only thing that flimmakers skillfully did – is lay out facts they gathered from the legal documentation and interviews of the party involved; letting the viewer discover the “truth” of the story on its own.

It’s widely known Mark Zuckeberg and Facebook did not indorse this movie. It’s widely known Zuck was annoyed with this movie and didn’t want it to happen, fearing for his reputation and image being tarnished.

See, this is where I’m puzzled. Mark is a person whose media appearances made him widely disliked and unpopular in the eye of American public. In walks Jesse Eisenberg and instead of playing him in a caricatural way which his persona and image absolutely allow; Jesse actually “makes” Zuckerberg human and sympathetic. He plays him scarily phenomenal, he plays him fiercely and ruthlessly intelligent, he plays him so verbally superior to everyone that enters his personal space, that I sincerely hope someone like that actually exists in the real world, and his name is Mark Zuckerberg.

I for one I’m in awe of this person after seeing this movie. Hell, I even view Facebook less annoyingly after seeing the story.

And this kid playing him is just out of this world; Jesse Eisenberg, up until now compared to Michael Cera, a tagline that is surely going to disappear after this movie. A nerdy actor usually playing awkward, quiet and lonely characters; man, he demolishes all of that with The Social Network’. He just kills you in the first scene when he lashes out such verbal attack, you feel violated yourself. American critics are describing the “marriage” of Mark Zuckerberg as character and Jesse Eisenberg as actor – the kind it’s hardly going to be topped in near future. Both Mark and Jesse are 26 years old, both born in upstate New York to middle class Jewish parents, both hate publicity, press and their celeb status. More scarily, Jesse’s cousin, a web developer, started to work for Facebook while the movie’s been shot. Jesse Eisenberg was simply born to play this role.

There’s a news running around town that Facebook is doing a huge press conference in couple of weeks, something they never did. After the movie being released, Hollywood is joking that the purpose of the first Facebook press conference is following – to announce Jesse Eisenberg as the new CEO of Facebook.

Watch the movie, and you’ll know why.

As to the moral question the movie raises, and also the question everybody’s asking me, and i’m assuming the main reason people want to see this movie so badly – was Mark Zuckerberg really a lonely, anti-social asshole who stole Facebook idea and betrayed all his friends, just so he can create the social network that would allow him to feel accepted?

Can not answer that, and probably no one can but Mark himself, but one thing’s for sure. Mark Zuckerberg is a prodigy. He’s a rare type of genius, the kind that is so superior to everyone around him, he’s bound to be anti-social. Every genius is lonely. The only people who are loved and adored and popular and accepted are the ones who are not threatening to anyone. The mediocre. Mark is not just scary intelligent, he’s also too quick for people. The way his brain functions is just to fast for everyone to catch on. He doesn’t have anyone that can mentally compete with him, even at Harvard.

Did he storm to his dorm room that night to create Facebook because he was lonely and anti-social and just because he wasn’t excepted to Harvard elite clubs that he wanted? Really don’t think so.

He stormed to that dorm room after his girlfriend left him, which is shown in the first epic scene of the movie. After her verbal inferiority to his verbal superiority, after describing dating him is “like dating the stair-master”, he walks to his dorm room and does sort of a blogging drive by. He get’s drunk and insults her on his blog in 4 sentences, which is completely understandable thing to do when you’re 19 years old, and all of us surely did even worse things when dumped.

And what does 19 year old pissed, dumped, drunk guy do? Goes on to check other chicks. In person, or online. And what does 19 year old pissed, dumped, drunk hacker genius do? Breaks into the Harvard servers to steal the pictures and names of female students, from college database. Why? To make a website called FaceMash that will allow people (male students) to rank hotness of the female students. And guys being guys, the site immediate popularity crashes the Harvard servers.

Wow, must be that bitterness about elite clubs that made him do it. Please. The guy is a Hacker, for christ sake, that is what they do.

And the main issue, the point, the core, the holy grail of Facebook that people are going to wonder until the end of times, or Facebook, or both; and what inspired this movie in the first place, also the only reason Facebook became so notorious – the lawsuits. Had it not for lawsuits, would we even know who the guy is? Did Mark Zuckerberg really steal Facebook idea and betray his friends and all those people?

See, I think people are missing the point here. In my opinion, it’s not about the lawsuits and betrayals, it’s about the drive. It’s about the frantic drive to create a revolutionary project you believe in, and everyone that stand in your way is going to end up being your road kill. And no one is suppose to apologize for their drive in life. I think people have to understand passion, in order to understand Mark and his actions. “There is a difference with being obsessed and being motivated” – his character says to his girlfriend in the opening scene. And I absolutely agree. None of the people involved in lawsuits had a drive to match Mark’s. They were too relaxed, to indirect, thinking too small. And for Mark, that was the biggest crime.

One of the key questions the movie is raising is intellectual property and what would constitute of its theft. Simplified – can verbal idea be stolen, and what can be done about it?

There’s two main huge lawsuits brought up against Zuckerberg, that are also the theme of the movie. One from his Harvard colleagues Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss that wanted to recruit him to develop a dating site called HarvardConnection.com with them, after they heard what he did with FaceMash. He never called them back, and went on to do his own site, well basically just upgraded FaceMash. They wanted the dating site, he wanted the social networking site. The only thing that would end up being the same is that the people connecting to it would have harvard.edu email address.

Another lawsuit is from his ex best friend Eduardo Saverin, who technically didn’t do much for the Facebook in its origins, but invest a bit money for the site to run. But after he got pissed of and drunk one day, he closed the account connected to Facebook servers. Which means the site crashed. As you see Mark scream at him in one scene saying – “But you can not close the account whatever the reason is, we just can not crash, others can crash, but we can never crash, Facebook can never ever crash…” – you understand the core of the famous problems connected to the origins of Facebook.

That being the following – Mark Zuckerberg was the one with a core idea, he was the only one with drive and a vision so grandiose, that no one involved could follow. What did the Winkelvosses do when he failed to get back to them about the site? They e-mailed him. 52 emails to be exact, in two months. Does someone who really wants to do something sit on their butts and send countless emails to someone that’s not responding, or they go physically find him and shake him down a bit?

Zuckerberg is definitely not the nicest person on the planet. He’s complicated, he’s intense, he’s a bit assholish at times, he’s flawed. But people need to understand he is a computer genius. He’s a hacker. In their world, there’s huge competitions as to who can create better programs, break more servers, concur more. They all have an ego, and he has an egregious ego.

To be completely fair here, while preparing for the lawsuits, the Facebook legal team searched Mark’s computer and found some IM’s he was exchanging with a friend, that got leaked on the net recently. And they are….well, interesting:

FRIEND: so have you decided what you are going to do about the websites?
ZUCK: yea i’m going to fuck them
ZUCK: probably in the year
ZUCK: *ear

In another IM exchange leaked, Zuckerberg is fucking around about control of Facebook and the access it gave him, while it was still just used at Harvard:

ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard
ZUCK: just ask
ZUCK: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns
FRIEND: what!? how’d you manage that one?
ZUCK: people just submitted it
ZUCK: i don’t know why
ZUCK: they “trust me”
ZUCK: dumb fucks

I know. This is to teach all of you who like to post all bunch of unnecessary details on FB, what the one you’re submitting it to thinks of you. Kidding. He said that while he was 19, give him a break.

When the New Yorker did a profile on Mark and asked him about the IM fiasco, he said – “I absolutely regret them. If you’re going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, you need to be mature. I think I’ve grown and learned a lot, and my 19 year old self shouldn’t define who I’m now.”

But see, even after these IM’s, which I believe were more – nerd attempting to be badass – scenario, than anything else, I still didn’t change my mind about the whole Facebook controversy. And I’m saying that because of the money issue in all this. Money issue is throwing me off. Mark Zuckerberg is known as a person who does not give a flying fuck about money. He’s famous for it. And you’ll see that in a movie. He is a guy that up until a year ago lived in rented one bedroom apartment that he found on Craigslist. He held no furniture, but the mattress on the floor. He doesn’t own a TV. Even the Winklevosses famously called him “the poorest rich person on the planet”. He got his first credit card two years ago. And he’s worth 26 billion. He gave 100 million in charity for schooling, couple of days ago.

The money part is very important thing to be overlooked here. If you accuse someone for stealing ideas, being a conniving asshole who betrays best friend and cheats his partners – and if it’s not about the money, than why would he actually do it?

Why would a guy like Mark steal anyone’s idea? While kids played computer games, he created them. This is the guy who, at 12 years old – built a software program for his father’s dentist practice connecting the computers to send messages to one another. He called it ZuckNet, and it was a primitive version of AOL Instant Messenger, which came out the following year. WHILE HE WAS 12. This is the guy who, at 16 – wrote a software that he called Synapse, a program that used artificial intelligence to learn users’ listening habits. AOL and Microsoft wanted to buy Synapse instantly for a million dollars and hire him. At 16. He turned them down. In 2005, MTV wanted to buy Facebook for 75 million dollars. He turned them down. Yahoo and Microsoft offered much more. He turned them down. Terry Semel, the former CEO of Yahoo, who wanted to buy Facebook for a billion dollars in 2006, was quoted saying – “I’d never met anyone who would walk away from a billion dollars. I couldn’t believe it.”

Why would anyone with these traits, knowledge and opportunities in life steal anyone’s idea? Is there a one reason you could think of? See, I think the origins of Facebook controversy are much more personal, then we all think. Maybe he did fuck those Winklevoss guys. But knowing how simple Mark is and how much he cares about the project and how less he cares about the money – when you take a look at those guys – handsome, tall, popular athetes, WASP-y rich Greenwich Connecticut snobs that were given anything they wanted in life – on the other side Mark, who came from middle class and who got to Harvard and to everything he achieved in life solely because of his tech force; somewhere deep down maybe he wanted to screw somebody that stands for everything he doesn’t.

And that’s the problem with people that do not care about money. You can not do anything to them, you can’t win them, you can’t control them. They have power that can not be crushed. They are bulletproof. And I believe that is the exact reason he achieved all that he did. Because he couldn’t be bought. Because Facebook was his baby, and he did not want to give it to anyone, but to nurture it himself.

And people can say whatever they want, they can sue him until they die, the fact remains – they can not tarnish what he achieved. As he said in one of his rare public outings, to Diane Sawyer – “If you build something great, people don’t care what someone says about you, or even what you say, they care what you built. People don’t get remembered by what someone says about them, they get remembered for what they built.”

When I was 18, a popular croatian music manager took me to then very popular magazine (now even more popular), where I had an idea I wanted to present to the Editor. It was about the column I thought mag needed and I had a great concept for it. Since I studied fashion, and the column had to do with fashion (that’s all i’ll say), when I presented my idea to the editor, she asked me who would do that column. I said – “well, since it’s my idea, I could”. She smiled like I’m the biggest idiot, and said – no, that’s not a very good idea, I’m sorry. We left. Couple of months later I saw my column in the magazine, exactly the way I described it. But it was done by someone else. It still exists and it’s one of the most popular columns in the mag. It’s something I could never comprehend, or forget.

That’s why I was struck to the core when I heard one specific sentence in the movie said by Justin Timberlake’s character Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster while explaining his troubles with investors that ultimately outlined his Napster fall. He was sharing his experience of being a young kid with an amazing idea, bouncing to the walls of a corporate world that swallowed him by saying  – “they don’t want you, they want you idea.”

They don’t want you, they want your idea. It’s still bouncing in my head.

And after all the thinking, analyzing, movie watching, reading and researching about the Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, only one single thing stays with me. Not the controversy, not the lawsuits or betrayals, but the single one moment why this person is actually remarkable. Moment that defines what he actually managed to achieve. In the world of – they don’t want you, they want your idea’s – that exact moment can be summarized in one single 3 second scene in the movie when he receives his first business cards, age 22, while hacking in his billion dollar office, sandals on his feet and all, that read – I’m a CEO, Bitch.

Indeed.


Miranda Vidak
Miranda Vidak

Founder & Designer of Moodytwin Inc. Disrupting the conversation about culture, identity, relationships & social issues.

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