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Matthew Anderson Headshot

Zuckerberg and the Ferengi?

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I'm beginning to like Mark Zuckerberg, hereafter to be known only as "Z." My knowledge of this young man is almost nil. Indeed, if I ever signed up on facebook, I don't know how! And it disturbs me that I'm inclined to behave in a politically conservative fashion on this one. As David, a wonderful friend and writer recently admonished, "conservatism by it very nature is an attempt to truncate natural change."

When you think about it, not one of the Founding Fathers would support the current conservative view of their works. I'm pretty sure that none of the founders possessed so much ego, as to want the world not to change or be altered based on their new and untested "ideas." And yet, like many modern conservative Republicans, I was making a purely emotional decision about a person with no real information. If anything I shouldn't even like this kid.

There were many reasons not to like "Z". Harvard "privilege" is one. Youth and undeserved early success is another. What I call the "Horatio Alger Effect" is yet another. America just can't get enough manufactured "success" stories, especially in a time when most Americans can claim few successes. And the concerns of "Race" of course will always be an issue as long as "the race card" lexicon remains as a part of the lingua franca that obscures disproportionate economic distribution in America. Fortune 500 and 1500 management are still racial/gender monoliths almost without exception. And isn't a Cyclops' weak point its limited vision? Talk about long-lived genetic anomalies!

But ego gripped me as well. Having gone to Illinois, Northwestern and MIT, this "Kid" couldn't be any smarter than I am... and his experience base, well... c'mon! Heck my dad was one of the original pioneers of the computer technology he is now exploiting. But all that said, "Z" impresses me nonetheless and for reasons that might surprise you. Ignore any perceived arrogance for the moment. Arrogance is not a good trait. But to compete in modern America where all is about "winning", that kind of "in your face pomposity" is required or encouraged everywhere from business to sports to love relationships anymore.

Indeed, (and in fact because he seems to be doing the "right thing," without the prompting that his dad's and granddad's generation needed,) he's kinda cool with me! Yes, I know -- good counsel! But young kids can be brash and he didn't have to listen to that counsel. In fact, I hope his decision came in opposition to counsel. Whatever the gambit, there is a chance for academic redemption in "Joisey." That's because someone stepped up to the plate and made our kid's education an issue worth investing in. Having piloted more than one children's learning endeavor, I know how rare that is!

Now those who know me know that I can produce a highly researched work. That I prefer not to write in that style is a long considered choice however. I prefer the colloquial and "obvious" concerns of the body politic woven through unnecessarily lofty verbiage. Classical research based work shares vital information within a relatively narrow community. By its very nature, it is empirical observation versus "case study" in its approaches to epistemological understanding. Case study is more up close and personal and I prefer that methodology. Sometimes, poignancy gets lost in the labyrinthine -- like this paragraph. But suffice it to say that in the avoidance of complexity, "KISS" applies in politics like no place else.

And speaking of "KISS," I also considered the concern that writing about "Z" involves a kiss of another sort. Every writer with a "spell check" would surely like to get on the good side of this young mogul for one reason or another. But my acknowledgment here is a bit more pure. "Derriere Bussing" is not part of my arsenal. It isn't just that it is beneath me. We all have our price. But the greater costs ultimately deny the very objective that you originally sought. No, we might want to re-think the issue. And we may also want to prepare to thank the arrogant kid with the movie made about him that a few years ago, his PG 13 status might not allow him to see.

By now the reader should be asking, "Where is he going with this? Is this business? Is this politics?" Rest assured that I'm freewheeling down this slope for cause. And I've chosen this other than simple writing style because some things are other than simple. Formulaic approaches to human endeavor and understanding are by definition stifling. Big business is known for "massaging" an endeavor to death because some one of many needed to get it "just right." "Z" seems to have abbreviated that process and is a young and duly successful "wizard." He doesn't have to "show his work." Perhaps our solutions to our current problems will require a take charge, full speed ahead, attitude from someone not deeply experienced in the profit motive. I'm not sure that I've accurately described "Z" but the minimal time taken to make a decision of such monument and magnitude alone, makes the "kid" worth watching.

Now one may counter that he has a bevy of counsel, legal and otherwise. And argue that his decision to support New Jersey schools is not absent the predictable strings of business. But I would offer that ninety nine percent of all billionaires twice his age have never displayed such largess and currently have no plans to do so. I would also submit that I've personally been privy to a meeting in Chicago where plans similar to the New Jersey agenda were discussed. No go! And children, not only in New Jersey or Chicago, but young minds around the world would have benefited. To win at Lotto, one must be able and willing to play. "Z" seems to be in the game!

So Saverin, Hughes and Moskovitz let's get crackin. Being worth slightly less, perhaps you guys want to re-distribute only 150 million between the three of you. It seems that "Z" has set the bar for a whole lot of "Twittering Googlers."

But I also offer a caveat. Like many other Black professional athletes today, you are especially fair game for media. We assail you for displaying the "red blooded American Boyishness" that the advertising community "snake charms" from our children with every sex oriented commercial. And we love to tear down our prior heroes. You wont get the Chris Mullin, Joe Montana, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Myers type cover from media now. You're too hot and your actions violate the Ferengi first law of acquisition: "Once you get their money, you never give it back!"