The Social Network: How many friends do you have?

November 12th, 2010

Looks can be deceptive, hence faces can’t be read like books, or Eduardo would have gauged the intentions of his best friend Mark, with whom he co-founded facebook. The Social Network is commercially releasing in India today and there is a good amount of buzz around the film that chronicles the rise of Mark Zuckerberg to become world’s youngest billionaire. People, especially those in their 20s and 30s, are excited to know more about this young entrepreneur who revolutionised the world of online social networking from a dormitory in the Harvard University.

The Social Network is a brilliant film with an amazing screenplay and dialogues supported by excellent acting. Film critics, both in India and abroad, have on an average rated the film 7.5 out of 10. However, my purpose in this blogpost is not to sing paeans about how wonderful the film is but to point at something that has bothered me after I watched it.

I first saw the film 20 days before its release in India as it was the opening film at the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), following which I wanted to write this. But I think today is a much better time to talk about it since many of you will watch it and perhaps empathise with what I felt. I saw it for a second time late last night and on my way back to Malad in an almost empty local train from Lower Parel, my Mind had this conversation with my Soul.

Disclaimer: I am not a geek and my understanding of technology is not expansive. I use Orkut, Facebook, Twitter and Linked in to stay connected with my friends.

“Wow!! This Zuckerberg guy is a genius. Looks like he created the Facebook in just 6 weeks (42 days). The beauty was that the guy was not even interested in money, he just wanted to create a ‘cool’ social networking website. To top it he started it because he was dumped by a girl he asked out on a date. Incredible,” said my Mind.

“Yeah he is indeed a cool dude. But he should not have done what he did to his ‘only’ friend Eduardo. You don’t cheat your friends just because you are ambitious and don’t want to remain a ‘nobody’. And well he was definitely interested in money or he would not have cheated Eduardo,” said my Soul.

“Chill dude. The Eduaurdo guy acted like an emotional fool. He could have brought down the website. You must understand that there is no scope for emotions in business. Look at Zuckerberg, the guy created a company worth billions of dollars, he created jobs” the Mind retorted.

“True. But he had the unstinted support of Eduardo untill he got bowled over by the Sean Parker chap. Parker had no scruples, he was paranoid and Zuckerberg fell trap to his ‘energy’, to his ‘connections’, almost forgetting his best friend. You don’t do that, it is unethical,” the Soul pleaded.

“Boss, I think you are just jealous of Zuckerberg. He is younger to you and is already a multi-billionaire. It makes me laugh to think of your networth. Zuckerberg is a champ at 27 dude,” the Mind mocked.

The Soul felt it was an unending debate as the Mind was too trapped in the lures of money, fame and comfort. My Soul could understand that under the influence of Zuckerberg’s success story, my Mind was temporarily unable to see his ‘friendless’ existence.

When I got down at Malad station, I thought of Oliver Stone’s press interaction at MAMI where he talked about one of his most famous characters Gordon Gekko from the Wall Street movies. When asked why people liked a negative character like Gekko, Stone said, “There’s something wrong with people who love a ruthless bastard like Gordon Gekko. In fact, The Social Network (Mark Zuckerberg) is the new son of Gekko.”

As I write this facebook is fast adding more members to its already 500-million strong family of social networkers. According to a recent study by Experian Marketing Services India, facebook is the second most visited website in India after Google, accounting for 5.13 per cent of all visits from India Internet users in October and has increased its ranking since September when it was the third most visited website after Google and Gmail. In terms of Internet pages viewed, facebook is the second biggest website in India after Google. In total, 14.02 per cent of all page views during October went to a facebook page.

P.S: The Social Network has been called a work of fiction by Mark Zuckerberg. However, if your mind wishes to eulogize Zuckerberg, my only request would be to think of your best friend and the wonderful times you shared together.