Friday, October 22, 2010

The Social Network (2010, David Fincher)

One of my favorite comic strip characters is Charlie Brown. He's a good guy but has problems getting noticed by the girl of his dreams. He makes those beautiful hand-written cards that remain unsent. Maybe, he isn't sure if the girl is available or if they have anything in common. Absence of a ring on her finger does not automatically mean that she is single and unattached. Girls also don't go around with a sign that says 'I like chocolates' or 'I'm a passionate cinephile.' Charlie badly needs someone or something to help him with his problem.

Maybe, that someone is Mark Zuckerberg. Maybe, that something is Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook came into existence in spring of 2004. It was too late for Charlie Brown, who ceased to live, along with his Peanuts mates, in February 2000. However, I'm sure that there are thousands, make that millions of 'Charlie Browns' out there using the Facebook to befriend someone or to score a date.

The first scene of the brilliant, wildly entertaining film sees Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) having a date. He talks so fast that I had a hard time catching up with what he is saying. What his pretty date heard though is enough to make her head for the exit. The young man can't get over the failed date. With booze in hand, he ranted against her in his blog. Soon, he realizes what a jerk he had been and tries to woo the girl all over again. The rest of the film takes a look at the project he creates in order to catch the attention of the girl, Erica (Rooney Mara). What he created is really an attention grabber.

Current statistics reveal that the once-small Harvard-based information sharing project has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Facebook now has 500 million active users. These people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the website. Wow! That is a staggering amount of time.

Most of the Facebook use time is allotted to lurking, as suggested by a report released by computer security firm Palo Alto Networks. A minimal amount is spent updating comments and playing games. People are more concerned with what their friends are doing, their plans, their current moods, and of course, their relationship status.

The must-see foreign film presents a fascinating ringside account of how the interplay of technical wizardry and knowledge of human needs led to the creation of Facebook. It reminds me of another attention-grabbing, twisted online project which exploited the basic need to love/belong and be loved. In 2000, a Pinoy programming student named Onel de Guzman inserted a computer virus in an email with the subject line ‘I Love You.’ The note contains an attachment that, when opened, re-sends the message to everyone in the recipient’s Microsoft Outlook address book. It also leads to the loss of every JPEG and certain other files on the recipient’s hard disk. The Love Bug wrecked havoc on millions of computers around the world in a single day.

Who can resist the urge to click on an ‘I Love You’ attachment or ‘Accept Friend Request’ button? Maybe the girl who ditched Mark Zuckerberg. The ending shows the young man lurking and patiently waiting for that important Facebook notification.

No comments:

Post a Comment