There has been much questioning of the accuracy of David Fincher’s The Social Network. All this discussion, including the comments of the Facebook founder himself, revolves around what the film got right and got wrong.
Of course, the film is not a documentary. The screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, has said as much: he set out not to recount facts but to write a great story.
More than that, however, the story isn’t actually about Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook. It’s a story about us, a story about the world in which we live and the things that animate us.
The title says it all. The Social Network is not about a social network but about social networking, or perhaps more to the point, the world in which ‘the social network’ is a thing of significance — our world. We are the social networkers.
Towards the end of the film, a lawyer observes, ‘Every creation myth needs a devil’. It’s a telling line, referring not just to the creation of Facebook or even social networking but to the creation of our world. The film itself is a creation myth, telling the story of how our ‘connectivised’ present came into being.
This story crystallises Napoleon Dynamite‘s sarcastic nerd victory into a new clarity. Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg rises above the macho college snobs, the business kid, and the hip techno playboy. He doesn’t stop for money or girls: there’s more code to write. He who innovates wins. In the process, the Zuckerberg character has transcended the story of the successful nerd to become a kind of ideal human: socially awkward, given to selfishness, and left chasing a girl, but master of his technocratic world.
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.