David Fincher’s The Social Network

[looking at TheFacebook homepage while Mark’s adding more coding

Eduardo Saverin: Shit. That looks good. That looks really good.
Mark Zuckerberg: It’s clean and simple. No Disneyland no live new girls. Watch.
[Mark types out several more codes]
Eduardo Saverin: What’d you write?
Mark Zuckerberg: ‘Relationship status’. ‘Interested in’. This is what drives life at college. Are you having sex or aren’t you. It’s why people take certain classes and sit where they sit and do what they do, and it’s um…center, you know, that’s what TheFacebook is gonna be about. People are gonna log on because after all the cake and watermelon there’s a chance they’re actually gonna…
Eduardo Saverin: …gonna get laid.
Mark Zuckerberg: …meet a girl. Yes.
Eduardo Saverin: That is really good.

This scene follows the encounter between Mark and a male classmate who questions him about a girl in their class. His main concern is to know anything about her being in a relationship and if she has any interest in starting one. I find this scene relevant because it seems to hold a driving theme that we see throughout the movie. The college experience is where the Facebook idea originates from. Mark’s initial idea of Facemash was done out of spite towards his ex-girlfriend, but the amount of hits the online page gets in a matter of hours leads to his new phenomenon. People that attend college and dorm in the residence halls (not a person like me who attends Queens College primarily to get a degree) tend to form cliques or social groups they hang out with for the majority of the time. Gossip is nonstop and word is always getting around about who is dating who or what two people hooked up at last night’s party. This idea of people having a profile and showing the people they choose (public or private) what their current relationship status has added to the addiction that is Facebook. It also gives people a sense of power, where they control who can know what, at least in the sense of the online forum. Word tends to get around in college and Facebook provides this linking chain of friends, where someone may not be friends with another person but can hear something through a mutual friend they share in common with that other person. With that in mind, I’d like to point out one of the more telling quotes from the film:

“The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink! And you published that Erica Albright was a bitch right before you made some ignorant crack about my family’s name, my bra size, and then rated women based on their hotness.” – Erica Albright

Mark’s ex-girlfriend Erica said it best when she tells Mark that what he wrote on the Internet isn’t erasable. Once something is posted, it is never safe and essentially a free-for-all for anyone else to see. Facebook is the online forum version of the college experience in the sense that everything that happens in the real world can be shown to anyone and everyone, whether they were there or not. Posting photographs, putting up statuses and changing our relationship status is telling the rest of the world where we were on certain days/times, how we felt at certain points in the day, what we were doing and who we are or aren’t associated with in a relationship. It’s amazing when I see someone change their relationship status and it shows up on my news feed because the aftermath is always the same: people liking the status, writing comments like “you’re better off!!” or “what happened??” like it’s really any of their concern. However, by posting statuses that tell everyone your personal business, you are basically telling them that you want them to be concerned about it and have a say in your life.

Facebook has changed the way our community functions in regards to communication. A lot of times I get accused of ignoring someone because I updated my status but failed to respond to a post on my wall. I can’t help but feel stalked on Facebook and sometimes want to deactivate it entirely. The simplest detail can get you into trouble, not only in your peer groups but also in a professional situation. Posting certain pictures of writing certain things can jeopardize your occupational status at a job. Everyone claims to know that you have to be careful but regardless, the nonsense that is posted continues. Do I really care if you ate a bagel this morning? Well maybe I do since I’m sitting here reading my newsfeed. But do you really want me to like your status or comment on your breakfast? The reason I have used Facebook for about four years now is to reconnect with old friends and it’s a great outlet for creating events amongst your friends, family members and acquaintances. I can however accuse myself of being one of those people who love to waste countless time reading other people’s statuses, clicking through pictures and just refreshing my page as if anything important has happened in the past five seconds.

Facebook isn’t the first social networking site I’ve been a part of, and it probably won’t be the last…

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George Orwell’s 1984

“The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed—would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you” (Orwell 19).

The concept of not being able to think or express an opinion without knowing that you would pay a consequence is scary to say the least. In the novel’s setting of Oceania, the people live under complete surveillance. They share a fear that what they say or feel might not be accepted under their government. This quote is essential to Orwell’s 1984 because it emphasizes this notion that no one is safe under this type of society. Big Brother is controlling every aspect of life for its citizens, monitoring their every move. They want to control history, rewriting events in order to benefit their own image. Winston Smith struggles to keep his thoughts on his opposition to Big Brother and decides to buy a diary to write his secret thoughts. This quote is also telling of how little hope Winston has for living under different circumstances. Although he knows that what he is doing is wrong and that it might be successful for a while, inevitably he expects to be caught. The thought of having my every move watched by television monitors would be nerve wracking and it would be as if I was just living my life to please the technology and those running it. Orwell wrote this text to paint a picture of a world controlled by technology and a society constantly monitoring its citizens. Winston could not conceal his negative feelings forever so he was forced to let his guard down and begin his attempt to go against Big Brother. Unfortunately for him he was unsuccessful and succumbed to the manipulating tactics that the government used to brainwash him into being just another loyal citizen.


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