Saturday, October 30, 2010

Socializing on Facebook

The movie The Social Network made me feel a little funny about ever using Facebook again.

In it, a genius student at Harvard, shafted by his beautiful girlfriend, goes back to his lonely room and writes nasty things about her on his blog and starts a website demeaning college women in general. From that he becomes a minor college celebrity, co-opts an idea from a group of privileged rich boys and starts Facebook. Law suits follow him for the rest of his days in the brilliant script by Aaron Sorkin (the movie flashes back and forth between the history of Facebook and the various depositions), which winds up at a time vaguely "the present," but before the real genius of the story, the real Mark Zuckerberg, came up with his plan to donate $100 million to the public school system of Newark.

The movie is in line for a lot of Oscars, and will win most of them. The writing, as I said, is edge-of-the-seat compelling, the characters quirky and contemporary, and, even though we know how the story will come out, and we assume much of it is truth, we find ourselves wondering how much of this really happened in this way. And we emerge from the movie not quite knowing, but thinking we do. Zuckerberg is portrayed as a serious version of some of the boys we might see on "The Big Bang Theory," but I wondered if he had mild autism or perhaps Asperger's Syndrome. Actor Jesse Eisenberg had me totally convinced he was Zuckerberg, likewise Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker and Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Savarin, Zuckerberg' friend who gets passed by on the way up. The character of Erica, who starts the Facebook ball rolling in the film, was made up out of the whole cloth--but Rooney Mara, the actress who played her, is beautiful and winning--she clearly has a big future in the movies.

Leaving the movie, my date asked me how many of the people I related to on Facebook had become real friends. I had to think about that because I could only think of one that I had met in person having only conversed on the social network. I have 182 "friends" which is a small number in Facebook terms. Many people have friends in the thousands. I try to keep the number at around 180 by editing out those whose posts I'd rather not see or those who simply never post. Of my 182, about 30 constantly respond to my posts and write posts themselves that I am compelled to comment upon, but I've never laid eyes on. Many of those have invited me to visit if I'm ever in their area. Another 50 or so are people I know slightly who comment occasionally. The others simply refuse to play Facebook; I don't know why they're on it at all.

I enjoy Facebook, but suspect that like any addictive activity, my interest will fade of its own accord as the comments get stale and I tire or outgrow it. It has a way of replacing real life with a virtual one. That, I would think, makes it very seductive to the retirees and people who live alone, but there is something unsatisfying about the experience when you have actually had a life. I have a friend who has written a hilarious blog post about his resistance to the whole idea; his post can be found here. The movie, however, is for the ages--it is a time capsule of a moment in history, this very moment.


Steve said...

I'm waiting for it to come to DVD, although I may not be able to hold out that long. Your review makes it even more difficult for me to wait. I REALLY want to see this movie.

I, for one, hope you never get so enraged by my Paul Krugman quotes and links that you unfriend me, nor that you get so bored with Facebook that you leave it altogether.

I guess I like Facebook as much as I do because, even though I'm not a retiree and I don't live alone, I don't have a life to speak of, and, even if I did, I'm not sure it would or could be much better than the one I have on Facebook. ;-)

Mary Lois said...

See the movie. Soon.

R. Crusoe said...

Maybe I am too easily entertained or maybe I don't enjoy going out
or maybe I find something to occupy
my time, but I do neither F'book
nor movies. As a young teen I did not do well at peer jabber, my take on F'book. If I really want to chat or know a Face, I go in person if possible. Hiding behind a flat screen assuming whatever persona strikes fancy just ain't about friends to me. Rather it is killing time trying to make a mark on somebody's world. Ms Vikki (from
Lughnasa) stays in a state of tizzy due to F'book reading or responding to her crappy inlaws or ex. My listening to her jabber on about it is like witnessing a soap
live with Barbie. She did mention that an inlaw put her boob job on F'book for all to see. That may make F'book worth while once....
or more....mmmmmmmmm.
Movie going is a lot of work . I like movies, learn from them occasionally empathize in them. But
home viewing in the comfort of
leisure attire with snacks at hand
is where it's at for me. The old drive-in theatres were nice though. With all of the digi tech nowadays, I see no need to go to a walk-in. I think movies can even be seen in miniature on cell phones.
F'book friends do not require the actual caring and devotion that live warm eye-to-eye friends have. How many F'book friends will back you up in an emergency? How many will give you a hug in joy, depression, departurture, etc.?
F'book seems to be merely a self promoting affair to stimulate the ego. I am a retiree. I have never even seen F'book.

Mary Lois said...

Mr. Crusoe, for someone who's never even given a look at something, you are awfully critical. I don't think you'd like the movie, but I'm sure you'd enjoy Facebook. It fills up with the people you WANT to communicate with and some you've never met can say damned interesting things. But if you'd rather just bah humbug the whole thing, that's all right with me.

R Crusoe said...

Being critical in the negative sense is not my intent. Instead it is a comment of interest. Your movie review supports my comment the way I read it.
Another tilt on F'book is that it seems to me to serve as a kind of 'peeping Tom' for exhibitionists. Some wish to put it out there , some wish to roil those who do. That part is the drawback to an open book which deters me from being involved. Equal, honest, straight forward sharing would be fine if one has the desire. But, there is always that smuck who will spike the punch.
There must be a thrill in having an effect on others while hidden in the ethrit. By your review, I gather that the point of the movie is that he who is bad enough gets caught. Then, the tables are turned making his life misery
while the offended get sweet revenge. Movies and cartoons can make things seem real that are not likely, a good thing. Another good thing about movies is that they do not follow you around.
Being stranded on an island is where I oughta be, I guess.

Mary Lois said...

Crusoe: You remind me of Gary Cooper in the movie Along Came Jones. A lovely lady makes him a meal of lamb chops and he refuses to eat them saying "I don't like lamb chops." She asks if he's ever had them and he says no. She asks why not and he says "Because I don't like 'em!"

And by the way, that about being "bad" and getting caught is not what the movie is about. Not even close. I may have to rewrite this blog post if that's what comes across.

R Crusoe said...

I do not like rutabegas nor anchovies nor Dear Abbey stuff, either. One nibble was enough. About that beautiful woman, well, there is a lure (or allure) for sure. Amazing and wondrous fire soon found the caveman burnt and
leary yet the fire improves his life. We all know what happened in Eden , too.
I suppose F'book can be many things to different people, as an elephant is to the 3 blind men. But, other than actor names, the idea of the plot described is
what I got from it. All the extra business of F'book processes fails my curiosity. The genius of F'book to me is its conception
with the insight that so many seem to thrive on it. It has made the inventor rich, though how is beyond me. Even this comment format sorta reeks of the same idea as F'book. But, ML is the only F for me. That is due to distance, another facet of the book.

Cheryl said...

I agree with so much of what you said although I haven't seen the movie, which I will do when it becomes available on Netflix. I wonder why a lot of my "friends" are so silent too. Why bother being on FB at all??? Most of the quiet ones are people I know in real life --I think its pretty weird to be anti-social on a social network... perhaps all my real life friends are voyeurs and lurkers. Maybe I need to get a new set of friends. I sure can think of a few relatives that I wish I could renew....

I think I might make that my Facebook status--like, "Why bother with FB if you're just going to be a wallflower on it? As usual the people it was meant to provoke the most will most likely ignore it.

Mary Lois said...

Cheryl, I urge you to see the movie on the big screen. It will not wait.

Jerry of Wry Bother? said...

Liked your post, but the snot nose twerps are going to have to wait til I can catch them on Netflix rather that plopping ten large into their piggy banks to see them in the theater...

Sallypat said...

Enjoyed your review very much; Steve saw it, when I was in Philly, & he liked it very much [high praise, since he likes very few of the hundreds of movies he sees]. I will see it soon!
Did you read the recent profile of Zuckerberg in The New Yorker?

italianconnie said...

I go to the Facebook site to see what everyone is doing, however, it makes me wonder why some of my "friends" write about every little thing they do. Don't they have anything else to do? I am amazed especially since I know that some of them have small children or have fulltime jobs and yet they post everything every day!!! I respond sometimes but very rarely, perhaps that's why you never see anything written by me.

Unknown said...

I use FB as a way to interact with friends and relatives that I don't see on a day to day basis or have moved out of state. It's nice to read their postings, as trivial as they may seem, at times. It keeps me connected.

One of my relatives took the time to post all the pictures that she had of all of our aunts, uncles, and pictures, childhood pictures, military pics. There were so many that I had never seen. It prompted some of us to post the pictures we had stored in albums. It sure was grand seeing all those pics and they brought back so many memories.

I'm not sure this would have happened if not for FB, bringing us all "together" in one medium.

Mary Lois said...

I think that's a nice use of the service, Karen! I enjoy looking at others' family photos sometime even when I don't know the families. There is a relationship--I too have a family!