According to the movie THE SOCIAL NETWORK (in theaters October 1st; we got a sneak preview last week), Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg –portrayed brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg — was just trying to prove himself cool when he created the site while he was still a student at Harvard. He was a geek who couldn’t get the girl and couldn’t get into Harvard’s most exclusive social clubs and parties, and so he sought out to accumulate friends — or “friends” — the new-fangled way. Oh, and also, he might have kinda sorta “appropriated” the idea from some rich jock guys at Harvard. Though the best line in the movie, in Zuckerberg’s defense, spoken by Eisenberg (and possibly invented by script writer Aaron Sorkin), is this: “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”
The pre-release buzz is that “this is the movie Facebook doesn’t want you to see” — it’s being described as a mean-spirited take-down of Zuckerberg and some kind of revenge move by his co-founder and ex-best-friend who collaborated with the filmmakers (Zuckerberg did not). Does this sound junior high enough to you? And yet, we have to say — and maybe it’s just because Zuckerberg is played by the impossible-to-dislike Eisenberg — we don’t see the big take-down. From our seats in the movie theater, Zuckerberg was just a typically nerdy-brilliant college student who was awkward with women (and tried to overcompensate for this by pretending to be an ass), incredibly ambitious, and easily swayed by the wrong people. It would be just your typical college dorm room story if it wasn’t for the billions of dollars involved.