Meares 1Austin MearesEnglish 101Professor Bolton20 February 2012 The Social Network: Is Technology Really Worth it? The film, The Social Network, details the controversy surrounding the establishment ofFacebook. In this film, a sophomore at Harvard College named Mark Zuckerberg uses hiscoding ability to make a name for himself. Because Zuckerberg is known around the campus forhis computer skills, he is approached by two fellow students who wish to create a social websiteexclusive to Harvard students and alumni. Apparently wanting to gain favor with the twostudents, Zuckerberg takes on the project. When Zuckerberg launches Facebook a few weekslater, a website of his own creation, the two students accuse him of intellectual property theft.The students claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea for a social media site; they say thatFacebook is based off of the site Zuckerberg agreed to help them develop. To add to thisconflict, the movie reveals the increasingly intense tension between Zuckerberg and his bestfriend, Eduardo Saverin. This conflict arises because of Zuckerberg’s decisions regardingFacebook’s financial management. Through its portrayal of the life of Mark Zuckerberg, TheSocial Network puts forth an unfortunate effect of the proliferation of sophisticated technology;technological advance, while positive itself, inevitably adds to the tension of modern life. Much of the film chronicles the negative role technology played in Zuckerberg’s relationswith other people. Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook, for example, is what led to termination ofhis friendship with Eduardo Saverin. The relationship of the two friends falls apart afterFacebook is incorporated and Zuckerberg makes financial decisions harmful to Saverin.
Meares 2Corollaries of this falling-out between friends are, unfortunately, all too common in today’sworld. Catalyzed by communications technologies such as the cell phone, simple jokes andcomments can turn into friendship-breaking events. Consider texting, an increasingly commonform of communication brought about by creation of the cell phone. Because texting is intendedto be a convenient form of communication, users will abbreviate messagfes at will, often makingthem unclear. Such ambiguous messages can be misunderstood and wreak havoc on arelationship. The film offers further insight into this area of technological effect by describingZuckerberg’s relation to Erica Albright. Though their relationship was going poorly at the film’sbeginning, abrasive blog posts made by Zuckerberg regarding Albright serve to further degradetheir relationship. The availability of online blogging was an undeniable contributor to thenegative relationship of Zuckerberg and Albright. Despite their immense value, the cell phone,computer, and other forms of electronic communication contribute greatly to the stress ofmodern life. A second example of the negative role technology plays in Zuckerberg’s life is thelawsuit filed against him by the Winklevoss twins. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twostudents who approach Zuckerberg asking for assistance in making a social site for Harvardstudents, become enemies of Zuckerberg because of Facebook. Believing that Zuckerberg stoletheir idea for a social networking site, the twins sue him heavily. I believe that this example ofthe conflict caused by technology has a daily-occurring parallel in today’s internet world:plagiarism. The conflict caused by theft of another’s thought perfectly mirrors the film’sdepiction of conflict between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins. While plagiarism is anobvious generator of legal tension, it causes tension among peers as well; in an academic setting,
Meares 3it is unfair, not to mention illegal, to steal the writings of another. Technology, while itselfbenign, tends to encourage tension and confusion among those who use it. Furthermore, this film shows that technology increases the competitive tension of dailylife. The two lawsuits detailed in the film were filed by parties jealous of Facebook’s financialsuccess. The explosive success of Facebook, not a bad thing in itself, is shown to lead to thisdestructive competition. The fierce antagonism portrayed in the film is mirrored by thecontention that has arisen from the advent of electronic stock trading. As a financial tool,electronic trading allows corporations to take efficient, expeditious financial action. In spite ofthe invaluable fiscal advantage that results from electronic trading, trading in this way hasintroduced new levels of stress into several professions. Stock brokers and mutual fundmanagers, for example, are pressured to make the highest possible gains. Fifty or a hundredyears ago, accomplishing such a task meant simply picking productive investments. In contrast,because of the rapidly fluctuating data provided by electronic trading, trading at precisely theright time has become an important factor in today’s market. Mere milliseconds can make adifference when dealing with millions of dollars worth of capital. The pressure to make largetrades at just the right moment can drive some money-managers over the edge. Because oftechnology credited with revolutionizing the modern stock market, the jobs of many individualsare many times more stressful than comparable jobs were 100 years ago. Lastly, this film points out that the function of technology itself contributes to the tensionof modern life. When the Facebook bank account is frozen, jeopardizing Zuckerberg’s ability tokeep the site’s servers up and running, he hysterically proclaims to Saverin, “If those servers aredown for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed!” Though Zuckerberg’shysteria comes from his company’s lack of funding, his stress comes from the results of the
Meares 4servers ceasing to function. Likewise, in daily life, people depend on technology so heavily thatits failure can cause not only tension and difficulty, but even hysteria. For example, a dischargedcar battery can cause great worry and delirium for the owner of the car, who is possibly strandedwithout a ride. While it is ridiculous to think of abandoning cars for this reason, as they are vitalto the proper function of modern society, it is undeniable that they can cause problems. The claim made by this film that technology leads to tension is unfortunately accurate.Though it deals with some of the negative aspects of today’s society, this is a well-made andenjoyable film. Not only is this film enjoyable to watch, it provides insight into an often ignored,yet critically important, facet of modern life: the ever-increasing tension that accompanies ever-advancing technology.
Meares 5 Works CitedThe Social Network. Dir. David Fincher. Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. Perf. Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake. Relativity Media, 2010. DVD.