Minutes before The Social Network screening last night, dozens of us - mostly media - lined up to deposit our gadgets into tiny plastic bags in an attempt to reduce the possibility of pirated scenes and pics leaking onto the Web. The irony was lost on no one. There we all were to watch a movie about the world's number one social site and we were all locked up tightly with no way to communicate with the outside world (digital or otherwise).
However, once the movie started, that didn't matter. The Facebook story unfolded on screen with Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) leading us on a journey filled with geeks, greed, girls, and more geeks. At the beginning of the movie Zuckerberg is sitting in a bar with his sorta girlfriend, defending his personality. "There is a difference between being obsessed and being motivated," he said. Of course, over the next two hours we see the billionaire boy/man do nothing but obsess over trying to become the most popular kid on the Internet - all in an attempt to gain the favour of his first love.
What surprised me the most about the film - based on Ben Mezrich's quasi-fictional book "The Accidental Billionaires," - is that I didn't end up hating Zuckerberg as much as I thought I would. He acts like a clueless kid who has a hard time separating Facebook from reality, but in his own nerdy way he appears to simply be trying to replicate online the way we interact in real life.
The woman sitting beside me at the movie was not a Facebooker, but she enjoyed the fast-paced flick and entertaining appearances from characters such as Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Although there were a few references to the site's friending functionality, such as when and how the introduction of the status update occurred, the average viewer will like this film just as much as a Facebook fan.
As someone who lives, works, and plays on the Web, The Social Network is the first movie that I've seen that speaks to me, unlike other Hollywood films that tend to avoid the social realities of the Internet era altogether. Also, as someone who likes to tweet, type, and watch movies at the same time, the fast-paced editing, catchy music, and quick one-liners didn't give me time to fumble around in my purse and remember that my trusted BlackBerry -- and social networks -- were nowhere nearby.