Just a fad? A waste of time? For people with no real lives? Facebook may fall victim to the generation gap but there’s no denying its popularity.
Over 500 million people actively use the site, spending 700 billion minutes of their time every month updating statuses, poking people and checking out pictures.
The company is currently valued at $25 billion, making CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire of all time.
But The Social Network’s story begins well before all that in 2003, at a bar at Harvard University with poor socially awkward Mark (Jesse Eisenberg) being dumped by his Girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) for being elitist about his academic future.
Sure enough, Mark doesn’t react too well to this and goes on the computer-geek version of a alcohol binge, creating a site called facemash.com which compares girls on the university campus, blogging all the while.
It’s not all megabytes and C++ coding though, and as Mark, with his business partner/best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), evolves their company from a lose connection of college students to the most popular social networking site in history the strain begins to show.
Mark and Eduardo soon don’t see eye to eye over the business, with Eduardo pushing to make money from their success while Mark insists: “We don’t even know what this is yet, all we know is that it’s cool.”
Whether the film is a true reflection of what really happened between the pair through those ground-breaking years, only seven years ago, is unlikely, but there is a keen sense of teenage-awareness with director David Fincher, helmsman of Seven, Fight Club and Zodiac, to keep the film entertaining as well as tense.
Zuckerberg wasn’t involved with the film and in fact only Saverin is loosely connected with the book which originated the film, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.
Nonetheless the events did happen, and a few unexpected names pop up in the opening credits such as Kevin Spacey as Executive Producer and Trent Reznor, the founder of industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails, on music duty alongside Atticus Ross, who appeared in Reznor’s post-Nails side project How to Destroy Angels.
The supporting cast has a few surprising additions, none more so than former pop sensation Justin Timberlake, who plays Sean Parker, a renegade entrepreneur who co-founded original music sharing site Napster back in 1999. Parker becomes a wedge between Mark and Eduardo and Timberlake manages to be convincing as the washed-up party boy – strange that.
Social media is undoubtedly a phenomenon, and Facebook is at the centre of it, like MySpace before it it changed everything about how people interact on the internet, and it continues to be important today, seven years on, after a lot of similar sites have long since declined, including MySpace itself.
As for the film the story is engaging because of the friendship between the characters, and anyone who has grown up with the rise of the internet will relate to it’s integration with the cyberculture which has evolved in the 21st century, as well as typical teenagery moments.
For those who don’t know Facebook and don’t want to know it won’t offer much, but to see what goes into something that has become more than ‘just a fad’ it is much more rewarding.
James Michael Parry