Posted by: East and West | 2010/10/09

Impressions: The Social Network

The Social Network is unkind to all its protagonists.

Mark Zukerberg is portrayed as an oblivious, self-absorbed nerd who, despite his intelligence, was easily manipulated through his emotions. Tainted by a kernel of ego-driven dishonesty, he is a classic biblical study of the man who gains the whole world but loses his soul.

Eduardo Saverin comes across as a trusting and naïve friend who lost touch with the product concept in his search to monetize it. Full of good intentions, he allowed his grasp of classic economics to hinder him from making a leap of faith into the morally ambiguous world of techonomics.

Sean Parker fills the role of the flashy, tech-savvy leech, whose claim to fame was to flame out gloriously. His character is much less developed in the movie and we never have insight into his true understanding of technology. That makes Justin Timberlake’s performance somewhat disturbing, because I never quite forget that Timberlake plays Parker.

The Winkelvoss brothers and Divya Narendra appear to be stereotypical rich kids, whose sense of entitlement caused them to devalue Zukerberg. They are the comic relief in this story.

Computer programming is portrayed as an all-or-nothing, only-genius-wins expertise, and that’s not entirely true. There are millions of programmers worldwide who know that genius is mostly perspiration ignited by a flash of inspiration, who bring the small but significant breakthroughs that drive the products we use every day.

Despite its negativity, The Social Network is a compelling story. It’s a combination of personal train wrecks – everyone loves to watch a train wreck – wrapped in a successful product that millions of us use daily. Jesse Eisenberg’s performance evokes sympathy and invites you to look behind Zuckerberg’s hubris and elemental dishonesty to the insecure little boy inside. Andrew Garfield’s performance draws you into his sense of being in over his head and his feeling of betrayal.

The Social Network makes you wonder what unkind stories are buried in Twitter, Foursquare and FoodSpotting.

[All photos in this blog post courtesy of http://www.rottentomatoes.com.%5D

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