Social media undoubtedly are one of the most significant milestones of the Internet era. Notably, the development of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg is worth mentioning among the inventions that transformed the world. Facebook enabled people to connect through the internet without geographical restrictions; its success set the foundation for the future of social media (Propes). Later, other platforms were developed based on similar principles, adding even more to online communication speed and quality.
However, the success of Facebook as a social network platform does not conform to the social nature of its founder. “The Social Network” film that David Fincher created in 2010 illustrates this. Specifically, the filmmaker wanted to show how the world’s youngest billionaire created the world’s most successful social network but lost his social life (Propes). The paper analyzes “The Social Network” based on how it depicts the effects of social media on people’s routines, lifestyles, and communication. In fact, the personality of Mark Zuckerberg, as the artwork presents it is a bright example of the consequences social networks can have.
Summary of the Film
Aaron Sorkin, the screenplay, and David Fincher, the producer, created the film based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich to depict the change that Zuckerberg experienced when he invented Facebook. The movie depicts Mark’s life and nature as well as the transformation that Facebook brought to the world. In addition, both Fincher’s great visual presentations and Sorkin’s witty writings apparently target to reveal the struggles that come with large corporations (Gokul). They unveil the background struggles that most firms such as Facebook, experience before growing into successful and famous businesses. The themes of betrayal, power and money are central in the film.
The personality of Mark Zuckerberg, as demonstrated in “The Social Network,” represents the nature of most of the characters in Aaron Sorkin’s films. Sorkin, the scriptwriter, often depicts his protagonists as intellectual genii with high, quite egocentric traits and behavior. Thus, in the film under review, Mark Zuckerberg is so focused on himself that millionaires’ fame and attention do not interest him. Even his dress does not conform to the popular campus culture but instead depicts him as carefree and insensitive to other people’s perceptions.
Mark’s journey to developing what would be the most successful social media platform in the world begins when he breaks up with his girlfriend, Erica. The incident frustrates him, and he gets too drunk to try to get his mind away from her. In such a state, he is struck by the idea of hacking into Harvard’s computer system (Fincher). His goal is to access the photos of the girls in the university and set up a poll for students to vote for the hottest. Surprisingly, the site generates unusual traffic that causes a system breakdown. The administration then accuses Mark of that, and he is not apologetic.
The protagonist’s brilliance in computers earns him recognition; the university officials Tyler Winklevoss and Diya Narendra invite him to create a social dating network, TheHavardConnection.com. He accepts the proposal and talks to his friend Eduardo about financing the project. Both agree to create an exclusive social network that would present the campus life (Fincher). Later, after the success of Facebook, Eduardo sued mark for splitting the shares of the company unfairly, while Winklevoss and Narendra also sued him for stealing their idea. During the initial development stages of the social network, the website is limited to Harvard, but Zuckerberg’s regular coding eventually enhanced it into a worldwide social media giant. As mentioned, the elements of betrayal that results in a series of lawsuits against the company accompany the success of Facebook in the film.
Historical Context of the Film
The film “The Social Network” was developed in 2010 when Facebook had just hit the milestone of 500 million users. At the time, the platform was valued at $25 billion (Gokul). That was also the moment when Zuckerberg became the youngest billionaire in the world, which was a significant achievement, considering that the network had existed for only seven years. The success of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg came when social media started gaining ground; many people were beginning to adapt to the new reality Facebook was unfolding. There were, therefore, more and more questions about the unique website and the man behind it.
The great combination of Sorkin’s screenplay and Fincher’s sense of direction describes quite accurately the historical context on which the film rests. Although the year of release is 2010, the film traces the events of 2003, when Zuckerberg invented a social network at Harvard. The preceding events are consistent with Facebook and Mark’s realities; the betrayal and the lawsuits have been well articulated according to the time they occur.
For instance, in 2003, when Zuckerberg had the idea of creating Facebook, he asked his friend Eduardo Saverin for $15000 to develop the site he had in mind. After actualizing the idea, Zuckerberg decided to dilute Saverin’s stake at Facebook in 2005 when he split their shares into a 65% to 35% ratio (Wold). That led to a series of lawsuits that depicted Mark’s sense of betrayal and power. The film articulates the events chronologically, clearly exposing the chain that led to the fallout between Facebook’s CEO and the world’s largest social network co-founder when the scripted Mark splits with Eduardo.
Little to no is possible to say about the accuracy of how the film describes the personal life of Zuckerberg because he does not disclose much detail about it. In one respect, the work accurately describes most American universities’ campus life, which often involves parties, drugs, alcohol, relationship, and other social habits familiar to the young generation (Fincher). On the contrary, the events in the private life of the protagonist, such as dating Erica and splitting up with her, presumably are fictional because the real Zuckerberg hardly ever gives comments on such points.
One of the movie’s achievements is the accurate presentation of how social media change the social attributes of people. Notably, the film depicts an ironic situation where Zuckerberg cannot maintain relationships with his girlfriend and mates but successfully creates an excellent website connecting millions of people worldwide. This irony indicates the essential role of the Internet; many socially inept people regard platforms like Facebook as a haven to spend their time and contact the others virtually. Therefore, social media are slowly replacing the need to develop excellent social skills and can affect the social abilities of the current generation. In addition, the film presents Zuckerberg as a narcissist who does not consider other people’s perceptions. It costs him his relationship with his girlfriend, Erica, because he converses defensively.
The moviemakers apparently intend to criticize social media websites such as Facebook for metaphorically creating an alternative reality for those unable to connect socially. In the film, Mark is a man who is living in an artificial world and only connects with people when he deems it necessary (Ridwan). After using them to achieve his objectives, he ends his relationships with them and returns to his artificial world. The unpleasant end of his friendship with Eduardo is one of the brightest examples.
Considering the above, “The Social Network” is able to serve as a reference for future research when social media greatly influences people’s relations with each other. The film did not depart from the historical record and tried to present accurate details of Facebook’s history and Zuckerberg’s personality. The historicity justifies the dramatic process depicted in the film because it represents the actual events, hence connecting the audience to the actual events.
To summarize, David Fincher created the film “The Social Network” to record the history of Facebook and predict the future of the company and its impact on the social life of the humanity. The events in the film are historically accurate to conform to the actual occasions underlying and accompanying the success of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. The film also exposes how people use betrayal, power, and money to run large corporations such as Facebook. In addition, it aims to depict how social life on campuses creates a perfect environment for the thriving of social media.
Gokul, K. S. “The Social Dilemma: Digital Frankensteins in the Age of Digital Capitalism.” Global South Colloquy (2020): 2.
Propes, Richard. “The Independent Critic – “The Social Network” Review”. Theindependentcritic.Com, 2022.
Ridwan, Muhamad. The Moral Values Found in David Fincher’s Movie the Social Network. Diss. Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang, 2020.
The Social Network. Directed by David Fincher, 2010.
Wold, Todd L. “Not a Foregone Conclusion: The Early History of Facebook’s Political Economy of Social Media.” (2022).