On the surface, The Social Network is the story of Facebook — a website created in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 that has redefined how we connect and communicate in the 21st century. At its core, the film is much, much more than just the story of one website. It is both a micro and macro look at success, failure and the trappings of ego and greed.
To those of us who joined Facebook in those early days (I believe I joined in January 2005), the sequences demonstrating the takeoff of the service will resonate. One of the most interesting things about Facebook, a site that first built its allure and prestige based on its exclusivity was just how quickly it spread. Much like YouTube, which launched about a year later, Facebook went from not existing to being everywhere, seemingly overnight.
The undisputed facts regarding Facebook are that by May 2005, just over 15 months after thefacebook.com launched, the company already had 2.8 million registered users and had received its second round of funding for $13 million. In six years, the site has gone from being something meant to bring the college experience online to something that is quickly altering multiple forms of media and gaining more and more users from every corner of the globe.
On its surface, this is a story about greed and ego and how money and fame change people. And that’s all true. On the larger level, however, this is also a film about what happens when success literally happens overnight to individuals who haven’t even completed the college experience. How does that not affect who you are? How does that not affect relationships and loyalties?
There is a cost for great success and a cost for changing the world. Oftentimes, those costs are paid in relationships. That’s true for widget salesmen, and it’s true for founders of social networks.
This underscores how adroit the tagline for the film really is: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”