Friday, October 15, 2010

The Social Network

I’ve been on a self-imposed Facebook ban for the past week and a half.  Ironically, the ban was not put into place because I was spending too much time snooping into the lives of friends and acquaintances or because I am clueless as to how to set privacy settings or protect pictures from unwanted eyes. 
No, I went on a Facebook strike after watching “The Social Network,” which may or may not be a somewhat dramatized version of how the pervasive social medium came into existence.   I always thought that whoever started this phenomenon had to be a megalomaniac bent on some form of world domination.  But, since I never cared enough to look into the history behind it, I never realized that Facebook was actually the brainchild of a drunken Harvard student, young enough to be my kid brother, who set out one night to hack a bunch of dorm pages and create a terribly demeaning and demoralizing misogynistic site to get back at his ex-girlfriend who dumped him due to his social ineptitude. 
And from this lofty beginning the story just got worse.  Not only did Mark Zuckerberg begin his social networking site with bad intentions, but he moved on to steal the full concept of a college connections site from his classmates and then continued his unconscionable efforts by eventually cutting out his start-up partner and only friend from any profits once the company made it big.  Many lawsuits later, Zuckerberg, with plenty of money to spare, received nothing more than a reprimand and a nominal settlement penalty that was undoubtedly a mere drop in the proverbial bucket of billions that his company is worth.
Did the movie provide an entertaining documentary look into the making of this current cultural trend?  Uhh, no!  It was disturbing at most and shocking at best.  From the extremely risqué scenes of drunken and drug-laden college behavior across the nation’s top ivy leagues, to the implicit individualistic idea of getting ahead regardless of the cost, the movie just left me feeling devoid of any sympathy for a brilliant man who’s made billions at the expense of others. 
While some might argue that ideas are everywhere and success comes to those who choose to do something with their ideas, I think there are simple human morals that need to dictate who benefits from which ideas.  It seems like what started out for me as an innocent movie review appears to have turned into a ranting social commentary blog post. 
At the end of the day though, there must be some truth to the fact that ill-intentioned ideas can be used for good, like the Facebook posts about different fundraisers, awareness campaigns, or information posted that could actually benefit others.  Even things like keeping in touch with long distance friends or family or celebrating milestones, events, and other successes seem to be a great way for using a network that could go either way.  And with that mental epiphany, it’s time to end my ban and hop into Facebook again in order to “like” my blog post in the hopes that my ramblings might prove interesting to someone out there in cyberspace. J            
  -Suzy Ismail

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