There is a wide backlash from new media professionals about The Social Network. Jose Antonio Vargas says that the movie shows how much Hollywood doesn't understand Silicon Valley. Jeff Jarvis thinks it vilifies nerds and is the new "anti-geek movie." People who want absolute allegiance to the "truth" of Facebook's founding are offended by the dramatization of it all, although nobody actually knows the truth.
After seeing the movie last night, I take those criticisms to heart. But I didn't enjoy the movie for any of those points. IMHO, the movie speaks to this generation's definition of the new media industry more than anything else.
The Social Network is about social upheaval in the digital age. It's about the ability of a new media class to deconstruct centuries worth of privilege and access that would've won in every other generation but now.
The Winkelvoss twins had an idea. But they didn't have the intellectual capacity to execute that idea. They fell back on the assumption they can just buy off a "code monkey" with the trappings of the social structure that has defined paths to power since social structures existed.
In the new media age, the communications industry will be defined by people who not only have an idea, but the ability to execute them. In the world of code, democratized media production through video equipment and photoshop, the ones who have both ideas and skill sets will always trump the ones who have just one or the other.
Mark Zuckerberg is a visionary and a coder. The Winklevoss twins? They're just wannabe middle men. That's what makes Zuckerberg so dangerous to the established media industry - an industry full of old middle men who don't have a clue on how to execute the ideas they talk about. The ability of a guy with ideas who can translate them through code is why he can make Facemash in a night while drunk - while the Winklevoss twins wait cluelessly for over a month for any word from him. It's the ability to have an idea, say it, execute it immediately, and change the way we think - big or small.
It's why the Columbia School of Journalism is teaching the next journalists how to use flipcams, photoshop, flash and coding. It's why the ambitious ones in this new generation don't just have an idea and say "OK I got an idea, but I'm too lazy to learn how to execute it." They know they have to do both, or else they're completely left behind.
As for the whole "social media was created by socially awkward people who couldn't make friends in real life" theme, who cares? Even if that's true, how does it affect the way we use social media now? Almost 10 years later, do the first generation of political bloggers still define politics online today? No. Because everyone's online now. The 500 million people who use Facebook everyday define the way it works - not the ones who created it. It's a great story, but it's a story.
At the end of the day, the movie captures the vernacular of the digital native generation. It's how we talk. It's how we think. It captures of the zeitgeist of our lives today. If this decade is the Facebook decade, then this is the movie of the decade.
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