Sunday, November 7, 2010

a movie

Ever since I saw The Social Network I have been feeling weird. I don't know whether the weirdness can be attributed to something simple like a realisation of how much time I spend on facebook. I think it's more of a realisation that it's an irreversible change to how we are now sociable. Zadie Smith wrote a very thorough article about the film and its implications (yes that's an essay word, but I frankly think I'm entitled to use it after three years of university) for our generation. After I realised that it went for over three pages I nearly gave up - my poor attention span! - but it's worth it. It made me think a few things about facebook that I've thought before, others that I haven't. She analyses the movie in a way that pleased me and has brought up welcome discussion with others.

When I went to see the movie I felt kinda odd afterwards, and not just because I had ice cream in my hair and on my hands (face fortunately free from chocolate), despondent (although that's not unusual) even. Smith's article argues that the current primary mode of communication for our generation has been dreamt up by this one guy Zuckerberg and that as a result, all our personalities are filtered through the different categories he believes define a person, eg, interests, music, books, film, quotations (just check your info page). Zadie Smith gets pretty angry about that. I don't know whether I really mind that sort of categorisation of people or even the other stuff that irks her about the site (shameless self-promotion/careful representation of appearance/all the general bullshit that we do to make ourselves appear a certain way online), I think it's just the fact that there seems to be less actual face time.

I get upset by the amount of time I have to spend on a computer and then when I get on a computer I waste time on facebook instead of actually doing the things that I have to do, which, if completed before wasting time on the 'book, would not take me that much time anyway. One of the things brought up in the article that I'm really glad about is the disturbing way that death is dealt with on facebook. Read it.

I guess I've never really been an outdoors person and the simple act of "being online" is something that lazy people such as myself can get into quite easily. I felt uneasy as the credits of The Social Network rolled and the lights came on. The place was full - there had been lines as we purchased our tickets (though the film did just open) - and everyone was buzzing talking to each other. I just knew that 75% of us were on our way to post something about it on facebook. When I left my friend, I even tried to load my own page as I was waiting for my tram. It didn't load so I played "Klondike" on my iPod instead. I wrote this really lame thing in my notebook the next day: screen to screen to ice cream to iScreen. (How dumb is Klondike? Why isn't it just called Solitaire? I felt proud of myself because I finished a few games earlier in the week and finally got into real $$, as opposed to negative money.) It's a good thing nobody watches tv anymore.

At the beginning of this post, I wanted to write something about how bizarre the whole phenomenon is with facebook, but I've been putting it off because writing about it only encourages it, it being the reliance that I (and others, I'm told) seem to have on this site. Then the other half of my brain chimes in with "it's not really that bad!". I have a tendency to argue within my mind (endlessly) and as a result things of worth seldom come out of it. The thing that I haven't heard anybody say about The Social Network (and the final thing I'm going to torture ya'll with for now) is that it's actually really funny. Best part is where Zuckerberg corrects one of the lawyers who refers to the Winklevoss twins as Winklevosses. Zuckerberg interjects: "Winklevi".


  1. I really want to see this movie. My Dad always talks about how absurd he thinks facebook and the internet in general is. He says it in a tone of disbelief, like he just cannot understand why people need this and why people communicate in this way. My Dad is the kind of person that doesn't even like to use the phone, he just likes to see people. I understand his disbelief completely. The amount I spent on the internet is ludicrous. Yes, I said it, ludicrous. Facebook included. It is actually kind of creepy. You talk to people you haven't seen in months and they will always bring up something about your life that you posted on facebook. Maybe we are simply disclosing too much to too many. Especially since I probably never even talk to 60% of the people I have added on facebook and in fact actively dislike about 30% of them. In saying that, I don't think I could delete my facebook. Like everyone else, I would delete it and then join up again a week later. We are constantly struggling with the idea of facebook; a dichotomy. One one hand we see how useless and ridiculous it is, but on the other hand, we need to feel connected in this daft way. I guess I try not to think about it.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important matter.

    I feel like a Gemini on this topic. When in fact I am an Aquarius which if you are into horoscopes I am likely to be a lifetime friend of Facebook (excuse the pun, i think).

    I watched the film but only on a cheap night of course and was one of many who laughed out loud at the right times, wanted to comment all throughout the film and wondered if the Winklevoss twins were in fact robots. I left the film buzzing and hating myself for it, I deliciously told my friends what I thought while in my mind trying to think of something funny to report back on Facebook. Fail.

    The thing is I am one of those people who intentionally maintains about 170 friends on Facebook and thinks I am better for it. If I do this, then I feel I won’t get sucked into buffer friendships that don’t matter. You know, you have your core friends and family and all the rest or buffers go onto limited profile. But I do like FB for keeping in touch with close friends and family and having everything in the one spot - pics, messages, video etc. Also, not having to leave the house but still be connected to people is a good moderation.

    Ahh moderation, a good segway into the flip-side of the argument. I have started to treat Facebook like the top of the food triangle, you know where all the oils, fats, sweet goodies reside and we are recommended to eat sparingly. But to find the scared social media balance is hard. I think it maybe easier to become a breathatarian than cut down FB usage to, hrmm, lets say 4 hours a day!

    I just want to be a good person! A well-balanced, social, connected, well-liked person but Zuckerburg as blurred the lines!

    “...disturbing way that death is dealt with on facebook” When you wrote this the hairs on the back of my neck stood up because when I have seen death related messages on someone else’s FB page I am stumped, I don’t know what to do especially if I don’t really know that “friend” well. I wonder where this is headed? I wonder if people’s lives will come down to how many condolence messages they got on FB? I hope not.

    I think I will continue to cut down on fatty-facebook and fill myself with real life relationships and experiences. To keep up the metaphor, I guess that could be like eating more nuts and fruits which sounds about right.

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  4. i'm also interested in how the screen mediated experience is extended to the film, and the audience responses to the film.

    as facebook users, we have always been aware of the behind the scenes machinations of the 'book, the law suits, the way the 'book controls and owns information, the "evil" of facebook.

    however, now watching the drama played out on a larger screen, we are challenged and confronted by our place within this evolution.

    post 'the social network' critics have spoken of areas of zuckerberg's life that remains unexposed in the film. the fact that he does in fact have a long term partner. it's another layer to this already hyper-textual plot line, albeit a hollywood version.

  5. thank you all for your well considered comments! I also keep my friends around a certain number - I do the same with my pictures and somebody once said to me "you're such an untagger!!" in quite a disparaging manner! But I think the message is that people will use facebook for different things. Just as I still have my myspace, but only use it to communicate with (mostly local) bands. It's interesting how that scene has evolved.

    I think it's true that we have been challenged to think about our place in the evolution by this movie and the film has probably surprised people who just went to see it out of curiosity, hopefully provoked in them thought about their place in this social and technological evolution!

    mega lol @ breatharian B, mega lol

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