Nathan’s Thoughts on The Social Network

I finally got around to seeing The Social Network, the first movie in memory that I was legitimately excited to see. (Those who know me know that I don’t like many movies and almost never go to the theater.)

I’m neither a movie reviewer, nor a Facebook historian, but I loved the movie and couldn’t resist posting a few thoughts:

 

In Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, one of my all-time favorite movies, an aspiring screen-writer attends a screen-writing workshop and comes away with a lesson that captures my frustration with most movies: “We must find originality within that genre. Did you know that there hasn’t been a new genre since Fellini invented the mockumentary…? My genre’s thriller, what’s yours?”

The Social Network works without a genre safety net. Can you think of another movie that has dared to tell a story with such an obvious ending, all without romance or violence? Somehow, the story captivated me for two solid hours; in fact, as I left the theater, I could only recall two slow moments, one of which was the opening credits.

 

Since I was in Mark Zuckerberg’s house (Kirkland House) at Harvard, a number of people have asked me if The Social Network is “true.” My take is that it gets a lot of the little details right, but is less accurate in it’s treatment of the characters.

The following low-level facts are true:

  • Mark did build a site called FaceMash for which he was disciplined by Harvard college.
  • Mark did email a modest number of friends when he first launched thefacebook.com, and those friends forwarded the site on to others. I received one of those early emails, in which a friend of Mark’s said: “This will definitely be in The Crimson”, referring to the college newspaper.
  • The college newspaper article in the movie was real. You can read the original here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2004/2/9/hundreds-register-for-new-facebook-website/
  • The phrase “Facebook me” did catch on amazingly quickly, within weeks, if I remember correctly.
  • Mark really did have business cards that said “I’m the CEO, bitch”.

However, at the same time, Mark is depicted somewhat unfairly. He was known as a brash and cocky guy, but he was certainly not without friends. I am personally good friends with a number of people who were close to Mark before Facebook. Moreover, he’s had the same girlfriend for years. To depict him as a loner is a stretch, at best.

 

I also find it hard to believe that Eduardo Saverin contributed as little as it appears in the movie. He was one of the smartest and most effective guys I met at Harvard – he taught my Calculus 3 class freshman year and came to class organized and prepared every single day. There wasn’t a question he couldn’t answer. Also, a little known fact: at one point, Eduardo held the world record for biggest upset in chess history. In any case, as a Facebook billionaire, Eduardo’s not much of a victim, so I’m glad to see that he’s taken the high road since the movie was released.

 

I am looking forward to the sequel and the march to 500 million users!

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