The Social Network

by Alexandra Sokoloff

This is being touted as “the film that defines a generation”.

Well, SPOILER, but I don’t think so.  On the other hand, I think we could have a great conversation about it – what is is, what it could have been, what really does define Facebook and all these other – whatever they are.   

And I really would like to have that conversation.  At conferences I have seen the most godawfully insipid presentations on Twitter, Facebook, blogging, RSS feeds, etc.   I think we can do better.

The movie is pretty brilliant for the first hour.  It’s fascinating to see what Facebook started off as.  As presented by the movie I read it as a nerd’s revenge on “social clubs”, which I gather is Harvard’s version of frats and sororities.  

Okay, look, I went to Berkeley.  Frats and sororities were the low end of the totem pole.   Being in a frat meant you were suspected of fucking sheep, and at least at the time, that was not completely without reason.  And doing sorority rush was cause for massive group intervention every bit as dire as would be learning that a friend’s boyfriend was battering her.

But for someone as misogynistic and socially pathetic as the movie portrays the character of Zuckerberg…. I can see that frats – I mean social clubs –  that got hot girls bused into the frat – I mean social club – as entertainment – would incite a nerd’s jealousy and revenge. 

On the other hand, there was also the homoerotic undercurrent of Jesse Eisenberg (who I thought was brilliant, btw, wonderful performance)  having his first look at the classic erotica fantasy of the Winklevoss twins, in all their 6’5” preppie cutness.   Talk about visual imagery:  after that I didn’t ever really buy that anyone female had anything to do with anything, motivation-wise. 

(By the way, did EVERYONE in college have hot prep jock twins?   Serious question, because for all these years I thought that was just me, only to find now that it’s just a college cliché.   And yes, the movie did inspire me to Facebook them, and no further will I go on THAT train of thought.)

Anyway, in the movie, Zuckerberg, the ultimate social outcast, creates (the formerly known as) The Facebook as sort of an online social status meter.   And the app is complete when a random conversation makes Zuckerberg realize the missing element:  the relationship status button.  Because the only thing you really care about in college is if someone is single.   Or for some people – taken and looking anyway is fine, too.

That was probably the high point of the movie for me because it made me understand what made Facebook – at least originally – a killer app.

From there the movie declined, for me, rapidly, because I thought the filmmakers, and I mean by that Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher (although I can definitely see the fingerprints of producer Mike DeLuca here), who have done such brilliant and emotionally unnerving work elsewhere,  never took the trouble to define and portray what the Facebook experience actually IS, at its core.

Okay, well, it’s a biopic.   Biopics by nature are unsatisfying – I think because no one can ever fully define a human being.  Except in fiction, of course – you CAN define a character.    Even the biopics I really love, like Walk The Line, tend to dissolve into soap opera melodrama in the end.  I’m always left with an unsatisfied feeling, and  this was absolutely true of TSN.

And I guess the filmmakers were most interested in the corporate and legal aspects of the story.   But what I wanted was a movie about Facebook. 

Why is it Facebook that has taken over the online world?   What makes it more addicting than – MySpace, I guess, for example, or the Ning networks or online bulletin boards?   Has Facebook become its own Internet within the Internet?    Or is Twitter really where it’s at, but not enough people have figured Twitter out to tip it over into critical mass?

Personally I was a little ahead of the curve on the online addiction thing – I burned  out all my obsession on an online message board before FB even existed, and of course then the obligatory blogging thing that we all do, and by the time Facebook came along I was politely interested but not rabid the way newbies to internet addiction are.  

But I do get some basic things about why Facebook.

First, it’s brilliant that it’s so plain, visually.  You don’t have to spend any time setting up a look for your page – in fact, you can’t – so there’s no competition or feelings of inadequacy, there, and no reason to put it off.  You can just be up and running.

There may be feelings of inadequacy about numbers of friends, I don’t know.  I bet that was a big deal when FB was just on the campuses.   But as authors, we have “friends” come to us.   We have thousands of them (in fact I am now in the not fun process of having to convert my “friends” over to a fan page – you would think by now FB would have designed an automatic way to do that).

The other obvious thing about FB is that it became the place to be, therefore you can find almost anyone you want from your entire life on it, no matter how long ago you fell out of touch, and message them without having  to explain why you are – because everyone else is doing it.   (You do get a sense from the movie of how in a business sense that kind of coverage happened, even though the movie only deals with the college phase of FB). 

I have not done much on FB to track down people from my past, but I’ve seen in other people what an addiction that is.   And for me, the connectivity is great.   I like keeping up with real friends – I like getting random updates about what they’re doing.  Of course the dark side of that is – that’s no substitute for a relationship.   There’s a song about social networking that says something like “and we’ll get together one of these days”, with the clear implication that people just never do anymore, now that there’s FB.

I love the update feature of FB because it’s like having a mini-blog without any of the things that make blogging such an exhausting time suck. Promotionally, it’s great for authors because it requires so much less energy than a blog.  You can get a fun thread of conversation going with just a random off-the-wall comment.    I have to cop to being extremely judgmental about what people end up posting – the level of inanity is truly off the charts.   If a writer can’t come up with something halfway interesting or witty or amusing… But when you have time, if you have time, you can punish those inane time-wasters in your own head by quietly removing them from your news feed. 

Anyway, I have no idea of the figures on this but I would venture to guess that you can reach more people in far less time by doing your blogging on FB.  But I can’t really say because Murderati has a large audience compared to most blogs, and so does my own blog.   I could never use FB as a substitute for my blog, but I have a specific niche – my blog is more a product than a journal.   For other people who are not getting the same kind of blog traffic and who hate blogging anyway, I would think FB is a great and maybe sanity-preserving alternative. 

And then obviously, FB is “dating” heaven – I think it must have completely replaced singles sites by now.  And that is the point I guess the movie was trying to make  – that what made FB a killer app is that it allowed people to hook up on line from within a network of friends, which makes it seem less skeevy.   Not that skeeviness isn’t happening left and right, it’s just the perception.

(It’s always sex and war that drives entrepreneurial innovation, right?)

So those are the basics that I see driving the phenomenon, but what I really want is to hear what everyone else thinks.

The 64 million dollar essay question is:

– Define the Facebook experience – for you and/or for the world.  (Come on, it’s Saturday, you’re only going to spend it on FB anyway.)

But if that’s too overwhelming – here are some softer ones:

– Give us your review of The Social Network.

– Tell us some great biopics and prove me wrong on this genre.

Hope everyone had a good week!



57 thoughts on “The Social Network

  1. Karen in Ohio

    On a girls' night out recently, one friend was railing against the whole idea of Facebook, and the lack of privacy in our lives. She does not even keep her cell phone on, she's so paranoid about "someone" being able to track her via the GPS in her phone.

    I'm a little concerned about privacy, especially since so many people use FB to telegraph every potential movement in their lives. It wouldn't take much for someone with evil intention to use this to their advantage, frankly. And the recent meme of "I like it ___", referring to where women like to keep their purses in their home, is just plain stupid. Why give that information to anyone, must less the whole world?

    Frankly, I'm confused as to why publishers seem to think it's so very necessary for authors to have all these electronic time wasters going on. My choice of book reading has nothing to do with Facebook, or blogs, and certainly not Twitter, which I refuse to have anything to do with. Once I've begun reading an author's work, if I like him or her, I may search them out on the Web, but if there is no social media happening with that author I merely assume they are busy writing more books.

    That said, a favorite author's website led me to one blog, which led me to other author blogs, which led me here. I most likely would not have discovered some two dozen authors (maybe more) without the blogs. Facebook doesn't really enter into that equation.

  2. Cornelia Read

    Alex, as always you are brilliant. I can't think of a decent biopic to save my life, and you're absolutely right about the soap opera element.

    What I love about Facebook, having lived in so many places as a kid and having lost touch with so many old friends because I never could keep up correspondence for shit when it was all analog, is that I get to find wonderful people I haven't seen in FOREVER and keep up with them (albeit in a glancing way) just by writing a couple of sentences and broadcasting them, and the same for them. That's a truly lovely damn thing to be able to do, and makes my life richer.

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Karen, I have the same concern about people knowing where I am, but I lie about details on FB all the time, and I have to assume that most sensible people do. I don't post that I am somewhere until I am already somewhere else. It's kids' privacy that I worry more about, since they don't usually grasp just how much they are prey. And I mean kids into their twenties seem to be oblivious about that.

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Cornelia, yeah, me too – and the thing I'm truly grateful for is that somehow on FB you don't feel the huge pressure of guilt about recontacting people. It's not a hurdle, it's just a message. That is pure gold. And you find from the updates that people really are who they always have been.

  5. Alexandra Sokoloff

    On another point, Karen, I think a lot of people ask themselves this question:

    "Frankly, I'm confused as to why publishers seem to think it's so very necessary for authors to have all these electronic time wasters going on."

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who has secretly thought that publishers don't care if it's generally a waste of time for the authors – it's time and money the publishers don't have to put into advertising themselves, and maybe it works. Maybe.

  6. PK the Bookeemonster

    I think social networking is a generational thing. I was on the internet back before there was GUI — all text. I think there was a social aspect — connectivity — but perhaps the focus then was more along the lines of information access. Now, I think it has shifted to the more social element. Kids don't want information, heaven forbid, they want to be famous. 🙂
    I am on Facebook but not as my primary web experience. I'm an info/news geek. But, it is helpful (again I'm going for the "purpose" angle) in keeping in simple contact with friends and relatives. I post occasionally but only about shallow-type things like the weather, list of errands to do, what I watched on tv. What worries me are the family photos that my friends post of their children. I know it's the easiest way for friends/family to be updated on the kids but other not-so-nice people can figure out how to see them too. It's like those checks you see every so often with the kid's photos as the background picture. To me it says: Here's my beautiful children and here's my address where they live…
    Biopics. Are you talking not good in terms of accuracy? Not good as in not good? How about Schindler's List? Lawrence of Arabia? Gandhi?

  7. JD Rhoades

    "First, it’s brilliant that it’s so plain, visually. You don’t have to spend any time setting up a look for your page – in fact, you can’t – so there’s no competition or feelings of inadequacy, there, and no reason to put it off."

    And you don't have those eye-poppingly unreadable "custom pages" which, IMHO, are why mySpace is dead or dying.

    Best biopic? John Wayne as Genghis Khan in THE CONQUEROR. I laughed for DAYS.

  8. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    How about "Scarface" as a biopic? That certainly comes to a climactic conclusion.
    I have to admit that I've become pretty enamored of the Facebook experience. I love that I am now in contact with just about everyone I went to elementary school with. And I've learned to ignore the posts where people say things like, "Today I broke a fingernail." One guy was posting inane comments so often that I asked him if he actually WORKED for Facebook. That quieted him down a bit.

  9. Robert Gregory Browne

    Don't have interest in seeing The Social Network. Not sure why.

    I spend a lot of time on Facebook, but I'm not sure why. I look at it as a promotional tool, but I'm not sure it's effective. My guess is that it's not.

    I think the Facebook phenomenon has more to do with people being able to express themselves in short bursts and getting responses to it. We've never been able to do that.

    Don't get me started on Twitter, however. I despise it.

  10. Debbie

    Alex, it's a shame the movie wasn't better. I'm a fan of Jesse Eisenberg and Aaron Sorkin but I'll wait to see it when it's out on blu-ray (same cost as hubby and I going to the theatre).
    I almost exclusively use the net for info and occasionally entertainment (distracted while researching). I'm resisting the 'social' aspect and acknowledge Murderati as a guilty pleasure and justify returning because…well, uh, I'm learning so much! Actually, it's true, but I'm also aware of the social nature and the time suck.
    Not sure about FB. I've been avoiding it but I'm wondering about it's impact on socially acceptable behaviour. It was touched upon in the comments to Tess' post, Should I Pull The Plug. Is it okay to email someone you don't really know )face to face)…ask them to friend you? How are you perceived if you don't friend somebody, unfriend them? Is this just a so what mentality? It used to mean something to be a friend…a level of trust, committment, dependability.
    And privacy? I've got kids. Maybe paranoia, but I smudged out a doc in my photo post when we covered office space and removed their pictures from display. It should be obvious to anyone here that I lied about my name on FB…besides, they would't allow Murder in a last name!

  11. Barbie

    People say all the time that Facebook and other social networking websites end up becoming replacements for real relationships. I beg to differ. In my experience, it's the complete opposite. When I first started using Facebook, a couple years ago, it was a great tool to keep up with my US friends — I'd lived in the US and came back to Brazil, so, it was great to keep in touch. There's a social networking website called Orkut that was very used in Brazil, so, I kept up in touch with my friends here. Recently, though, EVERYONE is getting a Facebook page. Most of my friends now are former high school classmates. I got like 40 new friends in TWO weeks — and I'm not public personality — because it seems my whole graduating class decided to join it at the same time. It's nice to keep "in touch" with all these people — or at least snoop into their lives — it's superficial, and meaningless and won't change my life, but still nice. It's also very nice to see people from the very past. My best friend in kindergarten added me the other day. I haven't seen her in, like, fifteen years. It's nice to see she's happy.

    BUT, the people I mostly interact with on the social networking websites aren't those people from the past. The people I actually talk and everything are my closest friends. I have really close group of friends from High School, we all live close to each other, but we just don't have time to get together all the time. Or even talk on the phone. Our schedules are mostly incompatible. We get together a couple of times a month, when possible. With Facebook, I can send them a wall post or whatever, when I have time. And they'll reply when they have time. Sometimes, when it's late at night, everyone's online and we start chat sessions on someone's wall. Sometimes, someone leaves a wall post, and someone else says, "Oh, you're home? I'm gonna call you." Often we set up outing through Facebook. It's an interaction between us that wouldn't occur as often if we depended on phones and having the same schedules. We're not "replacing" one thing for the other, it's more like, we can't get together, let's make do with what we have.

    On Twitter, it's even more interesting because most of my conversations are with my College friends, people I see most days. We're together during the day, and, at night, we still keep talking online! 🙂 There are MANY people at school whom I didn't even talk to before Twitter, and now we're good friends. The other day I went as far as telling a friend, "I think if it weren't for Twitter we wouldn't have become friends."

    So, I disagree. I don't see how social networking could be hurting relationships when it's actually allowing us more communication than we'd actually have time to have through other means! 🙂

  12. Chris Hamilton

    I treat Facebook as a place where there are people who might want to do business with me. Therefore, though I have fun with it, I don't post anything I don't want the world to see and other than "Holy crap, look at the seats we got at the Rays playoff game", I don't post where I am.

    Foursquare just seems like an invitation to rob my house, so I don't use it.

    And yes, I would have to say all of it takes time away from writing.

  13. Alexandra Sokoloff

    PK, I'm with you on the posting photos. It always unnerves me when people have their kids' photos on line – I wouldn't do it for anything. It freaks me out that people I don't know post photos of me, too, but that's part of the job, no escaping it.

    You are completely right about Schindler's List and Lawrence of Arabia. Biopic raised to art. I know how Schindler's List handled it differently – will have to see that and Lawrence close together. And rewatch Gandhi, too – I wasn't so incredibly impressed by the presentation of that, though.

  14. Alexandra Sokoloff

    LU, you're such a phone maven, it surprises me that you haven't conquered FB.

    Jamie Foxx I'll give you any day. Still, that's another biopic II thought was brilliant for the first hour and then lost momentum.

  15. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Well, Rob, the trailer for TSN was not great, IMO, except for that great cover of Creep. It made it look like it's all about the lawsuit. It's better than the trailer, but too much about the lawsuit.

  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Debbie, we're glad to be your pushers. 😉

    I know some people do get very upset when people don't approve their friendships, so I guess in non-promotional situations, there can be a lot of emotional weight attached.

  17. Karen in Ohio

    One of the best features of Facebook is the ability to "find" new friends among your already-friended list. I've reconnected with lots of people with whom I'd lost contact, and that has been wonderful.

    Two of my daughters post a lot, and so do some other family members. One cousin who had not been in touch with anyone in the family for almost a decade is now "friends" with over 20 other family members because I found his son online and friended him. We have a family-only page and we all post photos and information about family, some of which a lot of the family, including my girls, didn't know anything about. I much prefer this type of contact to waiting until a family funeral to get in touch again.

  18. toni mcgee causey

    I agree with you on not posting the details – I never tell where I'm going until after I've already been, and I don't like putting up photos of my kids (when they were little) or, now, my granddaughter. I've always felt that they should get to be in control of their own exposure to the world when, and only when, they were old enough and mature enough to make those choices.

    I also didn't post the correct location of my purse, for that meme. 🙂

    Twitter is more like hanging out at the water cooler in a huge stadium and hearing random conversations. Some days, it just feels too random and invented to feel any connection, and I'm finding that to more and more true. FB is more like hanging out at a big party or a conference where you have more in common with the people you're hanging out with and you're more likely to start up or participate in interesting conversations.

    I've come to the conclusion that neither of them should really be thought of as promotional spots, any more than the people in other lines of business would be welcomed promoting their wares to me. I will mention something about the book because that happens to be my life and I expect a contractor to mention her work or a jeweler to mention his–in passing, as part of their day–but not with a mind to trying to recruit me for sales for whatever they're doing. And once I came to that conclusion, it was incredibly freeing. I can use FB and, on occasion, Twitter, as fun, and not feel like I have to spend too much of my fragmented time on the internet.

    In fact, I'm spending less and less time, because it's draining too much of my creative energy away from the book, and I've got to focus right now to finish.

  19. toni mcgee causey

    Wanted to add that Karen's idea of a family only page for photos–even for kids–is a great idea. Something like that which is closed to strangers makes sense when family is spread across so many states.

  20. Alafair Burke

    I'm with Barbie and others: I really like Facebook and think, when used by healthy people in healthy ways, it can facilitate meaningful friendships.

    As for the movie, I've got to disagree. I loved it. I don't think it was about the current Facebook phenomenon as much as the personalities behind its inchoate form and how that form came to me. On those fronts, I thought the film was terrific.

  21. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Chris and Toni, sounds like both of you use FB in the same way I do – with reasonable attention to the potential dangers – including that it just takes too much time away from writing.

  22. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Alafair, I don't disagree with you at all that the movie did all that well. I just disagree with the ad that it "defines a generation." I think it was defining a couple of personalities, as you say.

  23. PK the Bookeemonster

    I wonder if biopics fizzle out in the second half because the life story usually tends to go downhill at that point. How many biopic lives go "and they reached the top and continued on happily and uneventfully"? Or is the same phenomena but it's the writers who lose their umph about the story they're telling and it goes downhill. Or the story should really just end at the top of the roller coaster? The Blind Side was a pleasant story except he went to play for the Ravens. 🙂

  24. pari noskin taichert

    Biopic: Gandhi

    We watched it last year and it's just as powerful as it was when it came out. I don't think it descended into soap drama at all.

    Facebook: I like it. I like the speed of it w/out having to figure out if my post is the requisite 125 characters or whatever. I like seeing what other people are up to — getting those little snapshots — that can be important too. From seeing something a good friend — though a distant one — posted, I found out her husband is quite ill and I am now able to give her emotional support. I've connected with friends I haven't seen in years but about whom I still think.

    That kind of stuff.

    Plus, I like when a discussion takes off. Right now we're talking about mental illness on my page and I'm very interested in what people are saying. It's broadening my world.

  25. Robert Gregory Browne

    I continue to think blogs are a better form of social networking than places like Facebook. Blogs like Murderati create a little online community that shares a common love, which is what most social clubs are about.

  26. Alexandra Sokoloff

    PK, I think all of those things you say about biopics are true. Also, and this feels like a blog post to me, but I highly suspect that the really successful ones like Schindler's List choose a particular event in the subject's life and focus squarely on that one life-defining event. But also, Schindler's List had a whole ensemble of characters it was following. You might say the film is more about the list than about Schindler.

  27. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Pari, it is truly great to constantly be getting those connections with random people in my life from catching something they posted. That's the huge power of FB that the movie doesn't deal with at all.

  28. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I agree with you Rob, but there are also so many people I meet who read Murderati regularly who never post. I mean ever. Which makes me feel we are more of an online magazine than the pure social networking that FB is. People just seem more comfortable jumping into a FB thread.

  29. Marie-Reine

    I love how Pari and Cornelia put it.

    Facebook, I love for keeping in touch. Rejection helps me sort.
    Twitter, I love for leads on info from like-minded (not for every burp and fart).
    Murderati, and other blogs, I love for community exchange (discovered most of my favorite authors here).

    Haven't seen The Social Network. Didn't get into Berkeley, so I went to Harvard where I didn't belong to any social clubs – oh fuck – okay… but just a few… and I hated it… nah… shit, I had a lot of fun.

  30. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Well, M-R, the movie doesn't give a great picture of what the social clubs really are. Just looked like frats to me. If they're not that, then the movie was lax – not defining something that was an important plot point. But if you belonged to more than one, that's already different from a frat or sorority. It would be great if you could post more details.

  31. Marie-Reine

    Another thought: I have the sense that people tend to think that face-to-face and ink-on-paper is somehow more real than digital communication– the e-kind, that is.

  32. KDJames

    These comments have been interesting. I just started using Facebook a few weeks ago and haven't really tried to make a lot of "friends" yet because I'm not sure I like it. Although it has been entertaining to chat with the friends I do have. Maybe I should try harder? But I honestly have no desire to get in touch with people I went to school with. Plus I'm not using my "real" name, I'm using the name I hope to be published under.

    I agree about the privacy issues. My daughter uses FB and she's very careful. Her FB friends are friends in real life. Even *I* can't find her page, let alone see her wall. I asked her whether she'd friend me (such a strange term) and she laughed. Said she'd rather text me, something she does regularly. Almost constantly.

    And yeah, I'm ready to stop using twitter. It was fun when I started. Now it seems to be one big promo thread. And news, but I value the news feeds.

  33. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I would definitely be one of the ones who feels strongly that encounters which involve touching, smelling, eye contact, hearing tone of voice and inflection, body language, pheromones, auras and body fluids are more real and complete experiences than digital ones.

  34. Alexandra Sokoloff

    KD, I thought Twitter was fun at first, to be so short, but it started feeling arbitrary after a while. FB you can do the same thing but you don't have to be so anal about it. But I'm not one to follow links, I'm very disciplined about that. Talk about a time suck!

  35. Marie-Reine

    Well, at Harvard there are two (official) kinds of social clubs. There are social clubs and there are Social Clubs. I belonged to social clubs. To become official is what gets your club funded, so you can afford to have fun and hopefully do good in the world. I started a few of these and joined others that my friends started, and most of us belonged to others that were there when we arrived.

    The best ones involved food, like the Div School's Buddhist students dinners in the refectory and the Native American Students potlucks. We learned a lot about each other and our many cultures and countries. We wrote and performed plays and published journals. We got jobs. We danced. We got drunk. We learned a lot. We raised a lot of money for recruiting amazing students who never would have thought to apply to a school like Harvard. We researched and informed others on our school's indigenous history and related financial beginnings, because it isn't exactly like the popular mythology… you know that a lot of pilgrims were being persecuted for their religion and went to the wilderness across the sea to be free– and left it all behind.

  36. Doug Riddle

    First, I don't mean to offend anyone here…..but yes it does define this generation, and if you are over 25 you are never going to understand the impact of FB….and you were never intended to.

    I am the father of 4 college age children, 18 to 24, so I have more then a little insight on FaceBook. (3 in college, 1 just grad with Masters….yeah I'm doing the happy dance)

    FaceBook for people of my childrens age group is the promise of the personal computer finally come to fruit. My 18 does not remember not having a computer in the house.

    Facebook was never conceived to be used by people of our collective age group. So, for us not to understand it's importance should not be a big deal.

    And the reason this movie defines this generation……is because it is about them, like FaceBook it is about them. It is a reflection of their world and their values. Why anyone older them would see this movie and is looking for deeper meaning is a little confusing to me.

    Oh, on Gandhi….my 24 yr old is a first year high school teacher in Alaska… of her seniors saw a picture of Gandhi and asked…."Who's the old black dude?"

    Now tell me which movie reflects this generation?

  37. Marie-Reine

    "I would definitely be one of the ones who feels strongly that encounters which involve touching, smelling, eye contact, hearing tone of voice and inflection, body language, pheromones, auras and body fluids are more real and complete experiences than digital ones."

    Hah! Yes, of course… I was thinking of communicating ideas when there are times that all of those cues can misinform, or when your background or ability actually doesn't accurately inform to the other's background. When stuck with words only, others are encouraged to focus… no guarantee.

    Thanks Alexandra.

  38. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Doug, FB might not have been intended for people over 25, but it's ours now, and I don't think there's any one of us who uses it regularly who is not aware of its profound impact – so deep it's not even possible to define.

    I do not think that the movie defines a generation. I hope to God it does not define the women in the generation, anyway, and I am not so cynical as to believe it defines men in any general way.

    I think it defines a particular entrepreneur, a particularly brilliant dot-commer – and that's a generation that's already past tense.

    No one said Gandhi had anything to do with this generation, it was mentioned as an example of a great biopic.

    I don't see what blinding revelations you're seeing that the TSN has about the generation that actually uses FB, and that's why I'm disappointed in it.

  39. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Marie-Reine, thanks so much for those details. It seems to me that there's a vast difference between the social clubs you're talking about and the Social Clubs, as you put it, which in the film are the ones with the Greek letters. Pretty confusing to call them the same thing – false advertising on Harvard's part, maybe?

  40. Dudley Forster

    I agree with Pari on this one. I like Rob’s analogy of Murderati as social club. Though, I wish more readers would post and agree with Alex that FB is an easier entry point for social involvement than most blogs.

    As for dangers of social networks, I agree that certain activities can be dangerous. Teenagers or even younger kids, unfortunately, commit most of those. Revealing too much info and chatting with strangers etc. But, most predators are neighbors, friends of the family or relatives of the child.

    Dusty – Did you know that Howard Hughes kept the Conqueror locked up in his library until the 70’s. It was one of his favorite films, which may be a further comment on Hughes’ mental state.

    “Searching for Bobby Fischer” – Which is about Josh Waitzkin when he was a child. I think it qualifies as a biopic and is a great movie about chess. Other biopics I like are “Julie and Julia”; “Amadeus”; “Chaplin” and “Erin Brockovich”

  41. Marie-Reine

    Alexandra, yes. The best that Harvard can do is to support students in all their creative attempts, and for some that simply means study clubs. But for others it means a private club that excludes. The school does not support social exclusion, but the few – who wish to remain the few – will.

  42. Paula R.

    Hi Alex, this is a great topic. I haven't seen TNS, and I actually have no desire to do so. However, my FB experience is one that I think is "normal." The main reason I got on it was to connect with author friends. I thought it was so cool to actually talk to them in "quasi-real" time. I felt extra special too when my friends would see that some of my author friends actually post on my wall. It became an addiction for me, and when old friends started to reconnect with me, it was great. There were so many people I wanted to get back in touch with but they moved constantly and numbers were changed and we just lost touch. Reconnecting with them is great. Now I use it to keep track of some of my favorite students without being too intrusive. It is definitely a good way to watch them grow without imposing myself into their lives, overtly that is.

    Twitter is my new drug of choice because of the quickness of the instant gratification factor. I feel closer to the people I follow, if that makes any sense. I have a q for everyone…do you guys remember Eudora? Just wondering.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  43. Paula R.

    KDJames, people can't find me either. When I first signed up, I did something with my privacy settings and now, I don't know how to undo it. I think that's great. People can't friend or find me, unless I friend them first or if we interact under another common friend's name. Even if you were my friend before and lost touch somehow, you can't find me again unless I find you. I think that level of security is really great.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  44. Marie-Reine

    Also I feel I should add that although the all-male final clubs – last clubs in a yearly string of increasing exclusivity – were long affiliated with Harvard College, they were ordered (in 1984) to either go coeducational or cease any connection with the college. All those clubs opted to become completely independent, and therefore not under the university's regulation.

  45. Dudley Forster

    Paula – I have a client that still uses it, even though it is way out of date and drives me nuts.

    PK do you remember Archie, Gopher & Veronica? When newsgroups were the cool thing or even before that, local BBSs? I remember how excited I was when I got my 14.4 Modem.

  46. Karen in Ohio

    First, I have to disagree with Doug about Facebook only having meaning for the younger generation. I'm 59, and ever since the run-up to my 40th high school reunion last year classmates have been keeping in touch via FB. It's a bit different once so many of your former friends have died; you tend to gather together, forget old differences, and want to reminisce with those who remember you the way you were in your glory days.

    Another thing, blogs are anonymous and faceless. For the most part Facebook is about personal identity, and things you might say in the heat of the moment in the safety of a public blog aren't said when the other person knows your name. This is really big, and if blog and public message boards were all suddenly stripped of their private nature I think public discourse would take a decidely better turn. As it is, all manner of smack is laid down with no fear of repercussions.

  47. Allison Brennan

    I haven't seen it yet.

    As for Facebook, I wish they would let me have more than 5,000 friends because 1) people want to be "friends" not "fans and 2) I don't want to maintain two pages and 3) When people search for me, my friend page pops up, not my fan page and 4) it's almost impossible to get people to move to my fan page and 5) I have over 1000 friend requests I can't accept because I'm maxed out, so I wrote a letter that I planned to cut and paste individually into messages urging people to go to my fan page where I will be giving away over 200 books between now and the release of LOVE ME TO DEATH . . . and then FB cut me off at 20 a day. I get more than 20 requests a day! Grrr.

    So . . . . FACEBOOK PEOPLE!!! If you're out there or a fan of Murderati and see this message, please, please, please let me have more than 5000 friends or let me automatically put people on my fan page who are on my friend page!!! I'm willing to pay for more than 5000 friends. Just saying.

    As far as me personally? I've always hated MySpace. The ads, the flashing things, the mess. It's just . . . ugh. I bonded with FB instantly for all the reasons you mentioned–it's clean, simple, effective, easy to understand. I loved reconnecting with some of my old friends, and having a conversation that isn't in the frantic pace of Twitter. I *get* Twitter, but I just can't do it all the time. It's tiring!

    FB is like the grown-up MySpace. I don't think it's just for college kids. I love that I can connect with my kids' friends–My daughter is more likely to respond to her facebook message than her regular email. There are problems with the whole thing, but overall it's a positive.

  48. Dudley Forster

    Allison – YES I agree 100%, I hate My Space for all the reasons you mentioned, plus their security is awful when it comes to allowing virus infecting code on their pages. I don't understand the FB 5000 friend limit either. Now about winning one of those 200 books….

  49. Mit

    I am one of your frequent readers – and rare commenters. I struggle with writing – and look anywhere for inspiration and encouragement. Even though my genera isn't mystery/thriller I learn/take encouragement from what you all write/delve into.

    I like blogs – because it can be a deeper discussion. FB is fleeting – and the conversation gets sidetracked. But not here. I like that. And that we're all here to discuss a common theme.

    As far as my own FB use – well. I moved away because I didn't really like those people. FB has just confirmed that 30 years later our lives are SO INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT. I can't imagine how awkward it would be to still be living in that small-town and running into those who never desired to leave. But it's "nice" to put a social veneer on it … and know something about them so when I DO go home, I have some point of context between my life and theirs.

    I have two FB accounts. One for my on-line friends – that allows me to maintain my antinomy until I'm confident they're not going to harvest my organs … and one for family and the people who know me face-to-face. *shrug* it works for me.

    Uhhh – what were the questions? lol

  50. kit

    Hi Alex,
    great post…hmmm, why do I FB? for whatever reason it sure has gotten to be an addiction to me. As a matter of fact I have de-activated my account a few times…mainly when I was busy with school…nope, wasn't strong enough to just stay away.
    And yes, have thought of cutting down on people as friends, changed jobs, work experience, ect…and there are just some people I didn't want on there in the first place, but didn't fell like I could refuse the invite.
    But the bottom line for me is, I live in the Boonies, I choose to do this and FB gives me the best of both worlds.
    I have all those connections for one reason or another, be it discussion boards, chat rooms, similar interests, ect…..I ask alot of questions when I want to know something…and I have all those people to get a response from…which in REAL LIFE ..there is no way that could happen.

    I have an online friend from Chicago…when I follow her twitter..I get the best handle on real urban conversations…in short bursts…it's not just the words, it also gives me an idea of the mindset.

    I have a plus size model friend from LA…I've seen that it's WORK….the *visibility factor* and it's great research …..there's REAL people behind those photos.

    A federal officer is another on-line *friend*….it took a long time to build that rapport….and alot of understanding….

    actually, ….these 3 alone, mean alot to me…..even, if I met them on-line. Believe me, sister, I know the difference between reality and fantasy……they are the real deal. I did catch one out in lies..but it wasn't a deal breaker…it struck me as dumb more than anything, that was a while back…hell, just delete my azz, don't lie, fib, ect. I ain't THAT desperate for friends.

    one other thing…my REACH is long….I KNOW the people that are closest to me, I also know when they will be looking for a comment….I can chew azz long distance and yeah, have used it once or twice….a person can hang up the phone or avoid calling…but it's hard to shut up a mom on a roll.

  51. Shawntai

    I like the review you guys did. I did one of my own, but you brought up a few points I hadn't even noticed, like the homoerotic view of the twins, which I completely missed but makes sense now. I also sensed him having more-than-friend feelings about his business partner and the napster guy. I like that the movie didn't focus on how awesome facebook is, or go into detail about what its features are. I like that it was about the case and Zuckerberg's relationships.

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