You may have known this: David Fincher's "The Social Network" is my favorite movie. I don't know how many times I have re-watched it (more than ten times?). I even remember some of its dialogue. "The Social Network" is, without many argues, one of the most highly acclaimed movies of 2010, but some said that this is not the one most people would regard as their most favorite movie. But, you know what? I don't care. LOL. I come across with an idea of writing more about this movie in my blog, so I will feature it in this month's "Lessons from Movies" monthly post.
The question is, are there really that much of lessons you could absorb from "The Social Network"? Well, while many viewers think that the lessons of this movie should be about Mark Zuckerberg (portrayed greatly by Jesse Eisenberg) I am gonna try to expand it not only as a movie about that ego-maniac, obsessive, and genius main character, but also about the social network itself. There is also some learnings about friendships, love, and more. I'm gonna put those things straight, so in case you are curious about whether these lessons do exist in the movie, you can give it a re-watch.
1. Internet gives you anonymity
Ever try to post something ridiculous in your Facebook account, or tweet something that is not "you" on Twitter, and suddenly when you meet your friends at some moments, they discussed about the post or the tweet and went like, "I can't imagine that the tweet sent yesterday is really from you" or "You know what? I think you are as talky as you are on your Facebook"? That's the point I learned from this movie. People sometimes feel that they are anonymous on the social network or blog, although they were logged in using their real identity. Do you remember the scene, after the break up scene between Mark and Erica Albright (portrayed by Rooney Mara), and Eduardo Saverin (portrayed by Andrew Garfield) came into Mark's room while Mark was creating Facemash?
Eduardo: Hey, Mark.
Eduardo: You and Erica split up.
Mark: [confused] How did you know that?
Eduardo: It's on your blog.
Maybe that is why Mark blogged about Erica Albright—and started his post with the line “Erica Albright is a b*tch”—because, although he knew that many people would read his post—even Erica herself—he felt that internet can give him an anonymous getaway of his anger. He welcomed a new world where you stop writing about your day on a journal or diary and start blogging and tweeting and posting on Facebook about that. Just like what Sean Parker (portrayed by Justin Timberlake) said:
Sean Parker: We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we're going to live on the internet!
Internet becomes your identity; internet becomes you. Whatever you write about in your Facebook account or any other “you” you create in the internet, people would believe that those are the real you—and you keeps regarding it as a form of anonymity. Including your relationship status. Christy (portrayed by Brenda Song), Eduardo's girlfriend, asked about why Eduardo's relationship status on his Facebook account said that he's single, in which Eduardo replied: he didn't know how to change it—and it is not important.
Christy: You're asking me to believe that the CFO of Facebook doesn't know how to change his relationship status on Facebook?
Eduardo: It's a little embarrassing so you should take it as a sign of trust that I would tell you that.
Welcome to the new world.
2. Being a friend vs being a business partner
I could understand how frustrated Eduardo throughout the movie, because at some moments in the past, I was dealing with the same problem. You know, at some moments, I avoid making my best friend a business or organization partner. Except that you share the same vision, hobbies, and abilities, friendship requires emotional bond while business and organization chase profit, satisfaction, and material stuffs. They are different. Mark and Eduardo didn't share the same vision: Mark was obsessed with programmings and codes while Eduardo concerned about the business. They didn't create theFacebook with the same goal, and in this case, I see that Facebook was merely Mark's obsession. Eduardo came just as an investor without a clear job description: he was there for only helping Mark realizing his ambition (and 70:30 deal in the Alpha Epsilon Pi party didn’t come along because at last, Mark refused to put ads on Facebook). Finally, at moments where they were supposed to be facing a problem as a team, Mark still took it as his own problem.
Eduardo: They're saying, the Winklevoss twins are saying that you stole their idea.
Mark: I find that to be a little more than mildly annoying.
Eduardo: Oh? Well, they find it to be intellectual property theft. Why didn't you show this to me?
Mark: [flippantly] It was addressed to me.
Eduardo: The letter says we could face legal action.
Mark: No, it says I could face legal action.
And in the deposition room, whether Mark was telling the truth or just declining answers, he revealed why he needed Eduardo to start making theFacebook:
Mark: I went to my friend for the money because that's who I wanted to be partners with. Eduardo was the president of the Harvard Investors Association, and he was also my best friend.
(for which the Winklevoss' lawyer replied very sarcastically, "Your best friend is suing you for six hundred million dollars", as the camera shifted to an empty chair which is supposed to be Eduardo's seat).
A friend is supposed to help you. This is true. But when you are trying to start a business, organization, or anything, make sure you share the same vision by discussing it clearly.
3. Anger is powerful (and may increase your productivity)
However negative Mark Zuckerberg’s character was described in “The Social Network”, there is a positive value I learn from him. It is about how he managed his anger. Yes, maybe we agree that he was impulsive, but do you notice that everytime he was angry, he created something? Whenever he felt embarrassed or offended by others, he created something. When he was splitting up with Erica, he created two things: blog posts and—spectacularly—Facemash. And he finished them all. Facemash got 22,000 hits within two hours (“The site got twenty-two hundred hits within two hours?” | “Thousands... Twenty-two thousands”) and became so popular in Harvard, just in two hours. We know that he was undoubtedly a genius but, hey, how many geniuses out there that ended up doing craps instead of making cool stuffs when they were on temper?
Facemash, the site Mark created that compares the hotness between two other female students in Harvard, undoubtedly insulted the female students. Mark was hated by all girls in school (and received a “u dick” letter from one of the female students in class). When he was approached by the Winklevosses (portrayed by Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) and Divya Narendra (portrayed by Max Minghella) to begin HarvardConnection:
Divya: The women’s groups are ready to declare a fatwa and this could help rehabilitate your image.
Mark: (remembering what Erica said) Wow. You’d do that for me?
Divya: We’d like to work with you.
Cameron: Our first programmer graduated and went to work at Google. Our second programmer just got overwhelmed with school work. We would need you to build the site and write the code and we’ll provide—
Mark: I’m in.
Cameron: —the money. What?
Mark: I’m in.
Ever wonder how offended Mark was when Divya said that his joining to HarvardConnection “could help rehabilitate his image”? Then see the change of expression on Mark’s face, and as Divya and Cameron kept talking, he suddenly said “I’m in.” Do you think that at that time, Mark started to create his own HarvardConnection?
He was offended, and he came up with an idea of making his own social network.
Or, remember the scene when Mark met Erica in a cafe right after he and Eduardo “got serviced” by their groupies? Erica said “You called me a bitch on the internet, Mark.”—referring to the blogpost Mark created after they splitting up—and Mark tried to explain that he was so sorry but Erica didn’t want to hear that explanation (“I don’t want to be rude to my friends”, referring to the friends he had on the table). Then, Mark went away, approached Eduardo who was standing still seeing him talking to Erica, and said:
Mark: We have to expand.
He was angry that Erica didn’t want to hear his explanation. Then, he want theFacebook to be expanded not just for Harvard students, but also other college’s students.
I don’t say that what Mark did everytime he was angry is good (like Erica said in that very moment, “You write your snide bullshit from a dark room because that’s what the angry do nowadays”), but the lesson I learned from him, anger will be a fuel for you to create something if you can direct it positively.
4. Ideas are meant to be executed
About the dispute between Mark and the Winklevosses, do you think that Mark really stole their ideas? We were given clear information that at the time they approach Mark, they had not create HarvardConnection. Not even writing the codes, designing the layout, whatsoever. They just came up with ideas, offered it to Mark, and asked them to join the team.
Imagine a situation where you and your friends are about to create something. You came up with an idea first, and you think your friends are capable of making it real. Then you tell your friends your idea and ask him to bring it to reality, together with you. But your friend is clever. He knows that you are not able to create it by yourself while he is more than able to create it by himself. So, he starts making it alone, finishing it, and after all, bringing it to reality. You are left just as a man with ideas and no executions. The question is, could you sue him for stealing your idea?
I don’t understand the laws or regulations about this, but what I currently am thinking is, there is no proof that you have the idea. In every deposition between the Winklevosses and Mark, what Winklevosses offer is just transcript of communication between them. Mark was hiding from the Winklevosses, while the twins only received replied emails from Mark that said Mark was unable to meet them in every time they make promises. And meanwhile, the twins and Divya (or let’s say them “the trio”) did not make any progress about HarvardConnection itself. They kept waiting for Mark as Mark kept hiding and lying to them.
My question is, who is wrong and who is right in this case?
From these paragraphs, you may assume that I am on the Mark’s side. Maybe, but I don’t also think that what Mark did is right. We could see, out of any physical and legal proof, that Mark is wrong. Just by our morals. But, from this little piece of subplots of “The Social Network”, I understand that whenever I came up with an idea of making something, I should have made progress about that instead of waiting for getting helped from others. Good if I could finish it by myself, but if I couldn’t, at least I should have made it executed partially. Why? Because the only evidence of you having a great idea is by realizing it, not just by thinking about it. Ideas are meant to executed, and that is what ideas worth.
And this awesome line from Mark...
Mark: If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you'd have invented Facebook.
...is probably right.
Oh my, how lengthy is this post finally becoming? LOL. I could stop my hand from typing, maybe because—again—this is my favorite movie. Now I don’t want to talk to much in this last paragraph. You may start to re-watch it, if you want, but I think there are more than just four lessons in “The Social Network” (see, I don’t even talk much about Sean Parker). Maybe I could continue it later.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2010 RATING Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and language RUNTIME 120 min GENRE Biography, Drama CAST Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara WRITER Ben Mezrich (novel), Aaron Sorkin (screenplay) DIRECTOR David Fincher MORE INFO