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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Social Network

So I’ve been trying all week to try and frame this post. I still am uncertain about what exactly I want to say and how I want to say it. But I have to put it out there (in part because I need to keep to my Non-Resolution to write more and also just because I want to talk about it): The Social Network. I saw that last week and watched it three times back-to-back.

I don’t know why but it completely captured my imagination. I’m guessing it was because these guys were almost my contemporaries (I’m a couple years older) and their apparent intellect is staggering. The ways in which their minds worked in the movie was just awesome. Some of that, I concede, I must contribute to the masterful work of Aaron Sorkin as screenwriter. But not to belittle his work, but he craftily and ingeniously framed the truth of what actually happened. He didn’t make it up. And I think what I was so amazed by was how fundamentally a couple of kids changed not only their world, but nuts and bolts, the world of everyone around. I mean even if you don’t use Facebook -you know what it is. Even if you don’t think your life is affected by its existence- it is. User or not, the world is different because of this little computer program made by a lost, angry, brilliant twenty-one year old kid.

Quick example, my BFF Claire* is still in touch with a Moroccan friend she made nine years ago, while on a week-long trip. I talk to family members I didn’t previously even know, on Facebook. My mother is FB friends with her high school BFF who she hadn’t seen or spoken to in over thirty years before they found each other last year. Some of this can just be attributed to the magic of the internet itself. But a great deal of the credit has to go to the brilliant idea that is facebook. I mean, I know it wasn’t a pioneer- there were the affinity sites- BlackPlanet, Asian Avenue, Mi Gente, then Friendster and MySpace. But something about Facebook clicked. I don’t know what it was for other people. Personally, I didn’t like the social self segregation of BP, Friendster just seemed like a silly idea to me and MySpace just skewed too young.

It’s just amazing, I think, to remember what I was doing at the same time these guys, or I guess particularly Mark Zuckerberg were quietly changing the world. I mean at a time when I didn’t even think myself capable of getting out of a dead end job, this kid was coming up with an idea that would make him a billionaire (that's billion with a “B”). Forty-one point six percent (41.6%) of Americans have a Facebook account. That’s a 124.8 million people, folks! In this country alone! They launched Facebook to the Harvard community in February of 2004 and in seven years have managed to incorporate (and if you watch some of your “friends” on that site you know) indoctrinate nearly half the people in the United States of America and half a billion worldwide. In ’04, I was 26. That year I lost my job, joined Match.com (a membership that has yet to bear fruit), skipped what ended up being an epic trip to Vegas with girlfriends and ended the year folding t-shirts for minimum wage at Club Monaco. It boggles the mind.

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