The Social Network illuminates the dawn of our online-all-the-time world.


The Mark Zuckerberg we meet in the opening scene of David Fincher's The Social Network is a particular kind of jerk. It's the fall of 2003, and Zuckerberg, an overly wound-up Harvard brainiac, is sitting in a bar with his girlfriend, Erica. He's rattling on about his perfect SAT scores, his musical gift, the vital importance of pledging the right fraternity. His conversation is pure stream-of-consciousness, and Erica has about had it. "Dating you is like dating a StairMaster," she says. Then, unthinkingly—as always —Zuckerberg says something insulting, and she walks out. Zuckerberg is puzzled. He's not really a hostile guy; he doesn't mean to hurt anyone. It's just that his mind is always somewhere else. Several somewheres else, usually.

The movie tells the story of the creation of Facebook—the epochal social-networking website—from the dueling POVs of its principals. We see Zuckerberg (played with crackling intensity by Jesse Eisenberg) launching a primitive early site in his dorm room. When it draws 22,000 hits in its first four hours (crashing the Harvard computer system), Zuckerberg—who is himself a study in social disconnection—begins to contemplate the larger possibilities of online interconnection. Soon, with the help of three friends—key among them financial wizard Eduardo Saverin (the magnetic Andrew Garfield)—he creates a new site, the forerunner of Facebook. It's an instant hit, and it just keeps growing. Zuckerberg sees a new culture emerging: "You go to a party with a digital camera, and your friends re-live the party online." Welcome to our world.

As the Facebook community swells into the millions—and the site's valuation into the billions—Zuckerberg falls under the sway of Sean Parker (a beguiling Justin Timberlake). Parker is the playboy cofounder of Napster, the file-sharing site that was shut down by music-industry lawsuits in 2001. He's a digital hipster, and full of shrewd advice. First of all, he says, Zuckerberg should think bigger and relocate to California to be near Silicon Valley venture capital. Saverin, with his east coast financial connections, is opposed to this, but Zuckerberg makes the move anyway. After a sneaky stock-dilution, Saverin realizes he's being edged out, and regretfully decides to sue. Also going to court are two insufferably snotty Harvard twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (a computer-assisted Armie Hammer), who claim they had the idea for a networking site first, and that Zuckerberg stole it. (Says Zuckerberg: "A guy who builds a nice chair doesn't owe money to everyone who ever built a chair.")

Much of the back-and-forth on these legal issues plays out in wonderfully prickly deposition hearings. The Winklevoss suit seems dubious (although Zuckerberg eventually settled with the twins for $65-million); but Saverin has clearly been wronged, and he's hurt. "I was your only friend," he tells Zuckerberg. "Your one friend." Amid the contending viewpoints, the movie is artful in never attempting to clarify who Zuckerberg really is: a scheming little snake, or simply a nerd-naïf caught by surprise on the cusp of his own revolution? At the end, the truth is still anyone's guess.

The movie's screenplay, by Aaron Sorkin, is a sleek weave of dense technical data and rich emotional interplay; and David Fincher—who managed to make information-overload so gripping in Zodiac—is the ideal director for it: He sweeps you up into this unexpectedly vibrant world. Sorkin's most pungent lines are rocket flares illuminating the online-all-the-time culture we now inhabit. After Zuckerberg writes a drunken blog rant about Erica (Rooney Mara), the woman who dumped him, she upbraids him in a restaurant. "You wrote your snide shit from a dark room," she says. "That's what the angry do these days."

Even more telling, in terms of the fundamental economic changes that digital media have wrought, is a passing confrontation between Saverin and Parker. Saverin, no fan of the older wiz-kid, pointedly notes that the big record companies were successful in their campaign to shut Napster down: "They won," he says. "In court," Parker replies, with the indulgent smirk of a new-breed mogul. "Do you wanna buy a Tower Records?" 

Kurt Loder is a writer, among other things, embedded in New York.

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  1. Perfect movie to go to watch!

    Eh, once it becomes available in Netflix.

  2. After I watched Zodiac, I felt like I could carry on and on about how I was affected by it, so I’m definitely looking forward to this.

    1. Every “based on a true story” movie should be done like Zodiac: no attempt at artificially creating drama, just a straight recreation of what happened from the characters’ POV. I hate seeing “fact-based” movies where the real story is fucked with and hope this movie isn’t one of them.

      If it pisses you off too, you might like this book: http://www.amazon.com/Based-Tr…..1556525591

      1. I heard an interview on the Jim Rome show the other day with the author of The Accidental Billionaires, a book that influenced a lot of this screen play. He feels this team pulled off the movie really well.

        I saw so many previews for this movie and just thought, “oh geez, Zuckerberg’s just trying to make more money.” But now that I see Mark and his people denying most of this movie, I have to admit I am a lot more intrigued.

        1. You can’t mention Rome and not make a clone reference. Quad yeah, rubba donga, something. My personal favorite is the J-Stew “mother-daughter routine” bit.

  3. first Kurt Loder next thing you know John Norris will be contributing to reason

    1. Damn it, this was the ONE PLACE I could get away from Kurt Loder.

  4. I don’t trust Sorkin, but I do trust Fincher, so I will probably go see this.

    Fincher was going to do Rendezvous with Rama, but it fell through. I’d say that he is one of the few people who could pull it off.

    1. I’m with you on the Sorkin distrust, it seems like the guy is too in love with his own writing voice to tell a true story.

      I hope Fincher can make Sorkin’s dialogue style less obnoxious too.

      1. Does Sorkin do any better when he’s on the ‘shrooms?

    2. Now that I could watch.

    3. I don’t trust Sorkin

      That’s just because you’re weren’t smart enough to get Sportsnight, the comedy so good it didn’t have to be funny.

      1. That’s what I’ve been telling people about Charles in Charge for years.

      2. I got Sportsnight: it was a tedious, politically-correct diatribe.

    4. I have hoped for years that someone would make a big-budget movie of Rendezvous with Rama. I loved that book and must have read it five times when I was a teenager. It would make a very cool movie, if done right.

      1. I could finally see the damn cylinder instead of trying to translate Clarke’s descriptions into a mental picture. Some of that shit was downright technical.

  5. OK, now I’m interested. I’m only on facebook to stay in touch with my husband’s family, so I associate it with old french ladies posting pictures of their grandkids, but I do enjoy a real story about jerks.

  6. The trailer was basically three minutes of Jesse Eisenberg’s annoying nasally voice. I don’t think I could handle 90 minutes.

  7. I actually like him quite a bit. Zombieland and Adventureland were both fun. He’s the only appealing part of the movie to me.

    1. But this movie doesn’t really follow the theme he’s going for. It really should have been called Social NetworkLAND.

  8. I’m definitely not an early-to-the-party kind of guy, but I was just recently hipped to the fact that there are serious academic discussions going on right now that suggest that the mass exodus of MySpace to facebook represents a kind of digital “white flight”.

    1. So the slums of MySpace and its shitty code represent some kind of inner-city wasteland while Facebook is the shining suburbs? Of course, there was niggaspace.com a while ago (it is now a more palatable ourspace.com).

      1. There has also been a comparable professional flight from Facebook to Linked-In as well.

        1. Maybe Linked-in will be more merciful to Facebook than Facebook was to Myspace. God, that was brutal to watch.

          1. I have both FaceBook and LinkedIn pages. I hardly look at the LinkedIn page any longer.

      2. Ourspace? Hahaha, niggers…

    2. Well, Myspace did get kinda out of hand with all the pimpin’ out of backgrounds and layouts.

      1. That’s what happens when you give monkeys tools.

        1. Black people?

      2. True. That’s what I hate most of all about Myspace. I like Facebook because every person I’m friends with on there is actually my friend. I do not need to see their personalities writ large (and horribly) on a website. I already know what they’re like and I don’t need the latest song by someone with a percentage sign in their name to represent who they are. MySpace also has a seedier atmosphere that seems to make it a better dumping ground for sexual relationships.

    3. “.. the mass exodus of MySpace to facebook represents a kind of digital “white flight”.

      Have you been on there the past 5 years? Shit, the only friend requests I got were from shitty local rappers.

      1. So did you flee to the suburbs?

  9. Will the movie delve into the earlier popularity of Myspace?

  10. Hey everyone, look at me! Look at all my drunk pics!

    Wait, this isn’t private?

    1. Facebook changed the settings again! OMG!

      Join my Make Facebook Go Back to Original Privacy Settings group!

    2. Compared to what, exactly…?

  11. There’s no buzz on Twitter – I’m staying away from the movie

  12. Making a movie about Facebook makes about as much sense as making a movie about Myspace or Friendster.

    1. Next up: A movie about craigslist. 😀

      1. THAT one would actually be interesting.

        1. Try Lured, a 1940s movie about the craigslist killer.

  13. Actually, the one thing I wish libertarians would take from this move is that the difference between being one of the richest people on earth and a couple hundred grand in debt comes down to little more than a coin flip.

    Or is one if you seriously going to argue that Zuckerberg is a zillion times more talented and hard-working than his rivals?

    1. You’re right.

      Chad, will you do the honors having holding the gun to Zuckerberg’s head and forcing him to hand over 40% of his income to the government. I would, but I’ve had this lifelong queasiness about stealing money from the people who earned it.

      1. Pussy, just steal it. There are people with NO talent that need to survive for no reason.

    2. Actually, the one thing I wish libertarians would take from this movie is that the difference between being one of the richest people on earth and a couple hundred grand in debt comes down to little more than a coin flip.

      Yeah, we rich assholes MUST have achieved everything through random chance and good fortune, eh? We couldn’t have possibly obtained those things through working overtime, wise investments, cautious spending, savings and careful budgeting, now could we? If so, then clearly every derelict on crack would have all the stuff that we do, right?

      What makes US so good?

      *Makes a sad face at poor people*

      1. And why does chance only benefit rich people? Don’t middle/lowest class workers win the flip of the coin sometimes?

        1. And why does chance only benefit rich people? Don’t middle/lowest class workers win the flip of the coin sometimes?

          According to Upton Sinclear, Author of The Jungle, the more poor you are, the better. He refers to it as Hoboing It in the novel.

          Essentially this means riding around on freight trains; eating other people’s trash; bumming money for alcohol; sleeping under the moon every night, etc, etc… means you are more free than the worker.

          The more middle class you become, the more bills and responsibilities you have.. and eventually you’ll become bitter with your life because all you do is work, sleep, buy fancy clothes, and die.

          Car – 3 ton ball and chain
          Wife – Just a ball and chain

          Be a hobo, it’s cool.

        2. Caleb, the poor do win some flips, but almost certainly fewer than the norm, and few if any of the high-stakes flips.

          The biggest flip of all is “Who is your mommy and daddy?”, and unfortunately, America falls short on this count. If you are born poor or rich here in the states, you are more likely to stay that way than in most other rich nations.

          1. If you are born poor or rich here in the states, you are more likely to stay that way than in most other rich nations.

            You fail, yet again. Actually, the U.S. has more social mobility than any of the European systems you undoubtedly prefer. The University of Michigan did a survey on income a long time ago (well long enough for the information to be out there), and found that only 5% percent of those in the bottom quintile in 1975 were still there in 1991. So just because you’re not smart or creative enough to improve your lot in life doesn’t mean no one else is.

            1. Jen, why don’t you use data from, oh, this century?


              Economic mobility is now poor in the US, and has been worsening ever since the 80s.

      2. Yeah, we rich assholes MUST have achieved everything through random chance and good fortune, eh?

        No, but it is highly likely that they contributed heavily…and in this particular case, all but certain.

        Btw, there was an article in the Economist a week or so ago that noted that studies have shown that 40% of your earnings are attributable to genetics alone. Last time I checked, you didn’t “earn” your winnings in the gene lottery.

        1. So what ? If somebody has better genes for doing the 100m sprint, are you saying he does not deserve to win the sprint ? If someone has better genes at running a business than you, does that imply does not deserve to make millions more than you ?

          1. I’ve said it before, but I guess I have to say it again:

            Chad read “Harrison Bergeron” and thought Diana Moon Glampers was the hero of the piece.

          2. He deserves to win the race. He doesn’t deserve to command a vastly disproportionate share of the world’s resources and other peoples’ time, however.

            1. Whose time is he taking up ? The wealth he commands comes from the very people who want to give it to him, are they not allowed to pay him whatever they feel he deserves ? Who gives you the right to determine what others attach value to ? If millions love Facebook and it adds meaning to their lives then Zuckerberg deserves infinitely more than your favourite sociology deserves to earn.

            2. Chad, why don’t just start compiling a list of all the people, individually, in the world, and what they “deserve,” and once you’re done, let us know so we can be enlightened by your brilliant social planning. Meanwhile, we’ll be busy generating more wealth for you and the other looters to steal.

        2. No, but it is highly likely that they contributed heavily…and in this particular case, all but certain.

          Btw, there was an article in the Economist a week or so ago that noted that studies have shown that 40% of your earnings are attributable to genetics alone. Last time I checked, you didn’t “earn” your winnings in the gene lottery.

          Chad, let’s say all of this is completely true.

          My answer would be a big, fat “so fucking what?” How would that fact, if true, equate to you or anyone else having some kind of claim on another person’s wealth?

          I don’t have the physical ability to fight Mike Tyson. Does that mean I should get some of the wealth he amassed as heavyweight boxing champ? I don’t have the speed of Carl Lewis. Should he have to run slower so that I can win once in a while?

          I don’t have Warren Buffet’s market analysis skills. Maybe I should send him a letter demanding some percentage of his fortune.

          I guess maybe for some people – such as yourself – it just sucks being you.

    3. “Actually, the one thing I wish libertarians would take from this move is that the difference between being one of the richest people on earth and a couple hundred grand in debt comes down to little more than a coin flip.”

      I think the libertarian personality accepts the role of luck in people’s lives as an amoral factor and is resistant to intervening on that account (although they’re usually slightly more receptive to helping the unlucky than hurting the lucky).

      Generally speaking, “luck” is very difficult to distinguish from “merit” and “cheating”, if only because there’s a lot of self-deception and self-interest involved in categorizing it. There are evolutionary forces pushing in both directions, since both false positives and false negatives are harmful when it comes to catching cheaters in your society.

      Libertarian societies would tend to be more meritocratic (and while they wouldn’t be devoid of charity, they would view those who claim to be victims of circumstance much more skeptically), but they would also likely be susceptible to cheaters who are skilled at disguising their malfeasance as luck.

      Socialistic societies, inversely, would tend to detect and punish successful cheaters if it results in them winning too much, too often (ie, the undeserving rich), but because in so many cases you make your own luck, they would also tend to punish honest success as well, and in their zeal to protect “the unfortunate”, they would subsidize a lot of moochers. Plus, they only detect cheating on the basis of income, so one can still cheat by cutting the amount of labor traded to earn that statistically unremarkable income. Hence, unions.

      1. America demonizes wealth. It’s pathetic.

        Start reading Crimethinc ya fuckin’ hippie losers. Glamorous poor lifestyle with beer fountains and hens laying free vegan eggs for everybody!

        And nobody has to work to get it done….

        1. I thought eggs were by definition not vegan.

    4. No, but at some point he learned (10,000 hours of practice makes you a star according to Malcom Gladwell) how to do the things that would get him to point where a coin flip would earn him millions of dollars. I’m sure my perusing of HTML for Dummies isn’t going to earn me that much money (well, maybe in late the 90s ;)) no matter how much good luck I have.

    5. He was the first one to capitalize in the new industry..

      1. Gah. When compared to ‘Tom’.

        1. Poor Tom.

    6. wasn’t the “life’s lottery” trope laughed out of the room back in the 90s?

    7. I find the harder I work, the luckier I get.

    8. By the way, “Chad,” often it’s not entirely about talent and hard work, although those absolutely are important – mostly the hard work part.

      Often it’s also about having a good idea and pursuing it. And yes, sometimes, being fortunate in having others think it’s a good idea as well.

      You are not seriously arguing that Zuckerburg just totally lucked into his creation, are you? He had nothing else to do with it other than pure chance?

      He had a very clever idea and devoted his time and intellect to it, and others liked what he produced. Might there have been some degree of good fortune, or “luck” that helped him? Maybe. If so, so what?

      Where is it written that those who do not have similar good fortune have any kind of claim on the fruits of another person’s efforts?

      You also seem to imply that if there is someone who “wins,” ala Zuckerburg, there must also be someone on the other side of the “coin flip” who loses. More standard liberal trope – it is not the case that there is some kind of finite pool of “wealth” in this country that “the rich” control and therefore we need some giant arbiter who gets to say how it gets distributed.

      Don’t have enough wealth of your own? Go out and create more. There is hardly a place on this planet better than the U.S. (although maybe not so much anymore) to create new wealth. Unfortunately, Obama and the Dems and progressives want to change that – instead of encouraging people to come up with new ways to CREATE new wealth, they want to simply redistribute other people’s existing wealth and “spread it around a little.” Obama said it himself on camera with Joe the Plumber.

      1. He had a very clever idea

        Which was?

        Social networks? Like the many that pre-dated Facebook?

        The social network “market” is has a strong tendency to a natural monopoly, at least within any particular linguistic sphere. Zuckerberg just happened to capture ours, for reasons no one can really be certain of. Whatever they were, it wasn’t brains or hard work. His competitors were just as smart and just as hard working. It was more a combination of random fad, earlier corporate backing, and anti-competitive practices.

        There is hardly a place on this planet better than the U.S. (although maybe not so much anymore) to create new wealth

        Why can’t libertarians realize that this ain’t the ’60s anymore? Your “Rah Rah America Number One!” chants are pathetic….and in contradiction to the facts. Of course, our decline could not possibly be related to the fact that our government has tilted much further to the right than that of our major competitors…

        1. “Why can’t libertarians realize that this ain’t the ’60s anymore?”

          Probably for the same reasons progressives can’t realize that this ain’t 1910 anymore.

  14. Is there a montage of a coding marathon? I don’t want to watch it if there isn’t a coding montage.

    1. Set to Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone.”

  15. Psychologists are claiming that people ages 18-25 who do not have a facebook account are anti-social… and by them not having a facebook account, should make authorities anxious towards them as a serious threat to humanity.

    No FaceBook Profile….

    1. I could understand where they’re coming from with this since facebook is how todays young generation communicates and stays in touch. Regardless I know a couple people who refuse to have a facebook yet are no where near anti social.

  16. Using a social network to keep in touch with a small group of far flung family and friends is one thing. Having 10,000 people you don’t know as “friends” on Facebook is just masturbation.

  17. Ahh yes but fun masterbation no?

  18. I don’t own a facebook account, and I’m only partially disillusioned by life, and only question reality for a few weeks after a bad trip… psilocybin and alcohol binge by myself. Gives me time to think.

    1. NO wonder I don;t question reality. I never had a bad trip!

  19. It’s an ok movie with flaws in plot and accuracy. If the screenplay were written by anyone but Aaron Sorkin, I think I would have liked it more. But his writing style tends toward the hackneyed and unnatural (much like mine, but I don’t get paid to write screenplays). I always feel like I’m being hit in the head with his machine-gun style of writing.

    I ain’t no high-falutin’ Hollywood, Harvard or Silicon Valley type, so take my opinion for what it’s worth.

  20. I’m on facebook and think it’s a quite important part of modern life. People made always find simplier and more laizy ways to live and that is just a point on the way to new instant communcations without any physical move.

    However I’m still up for active live and trying keep my real socializing abilities…

    I think this comedy has right vision on what we see around us these days:
    Mostly Unfabulous Social Life movie.

  21. This review missed several important things:
    1. Zuckerberg is portrayed as very morose and NEVER smiling -= very different than his public profile.
    2. The movie’s theme is definitely anti-capitalist in that it portrays “success” as needing to lie, cheat, steal, and backstab.
    3. No hero in the movie. Only 4 people at teh 9:30pm showing I saw last night & those folks did not even get the techy humor that I was LOL about.

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