Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Social Network

The Social Network, ultra-modern, cutting edge Revenge of the Nerds, made me think of Dolly Levi’s famous line in The Matchmaker (Hello Dolly for musical theatre buffs). … “And on those cold nights, Horace Vandergelder, you can snuggle up to your cash register.” This movie has so much to say about our culture and relationships, but for now I will focus on friendship.

The term “friend” has taken on a strange meaning. Facebook “friends” are not exactly friends, in the traditional sense of the word.

The Social Network leaves you pondering a lot of questions: What does one do when a close friend is going to be a drag professionally? When a loyal buddy has a different professional vision than you do? When the friend has less talent? Then what? Does the friendship have to go or are there other alternatives?

The characters from The Social Network (and in real life):

Eduardo Saverin was old-school, privileged, conservative, bottom lined possessed. He was “cool” in the Harvard sense--- he was in the Phoenix Club, after all.

Sean Parker was savvy, ultra-hip, paranoid and so eager to get what he wanted that he would have thrown his own grandmother under the bus, and smiled while he was doing it.

Mark Zukerberg was the brilliant, socially inept, driven talent behind the operation. But what was the driving force? Not money or success, per se, but subtle, twisted revenge against the “cool” people, the socially adept folks, the good-looking, big-man-on-campus types. The homecoming kings, the popular kids who were invited to join the important clubs. Yeah…. that was the fire behind Facebook.

In an ideal world, the talents of Saverin, Parker, and Zuckerberg would have been the perfect blend of brains, practicality, and savvy to give birth to and sustain the digital social networking giant. Unfortunately, it takes maturity to negotiate the relationship challenges that faced them. Instead of employing loyalty, emotional intelligence and teamwork, they expelled the unsuspecting Saverin.

Relationships that endure over decades are a great gift that we can only give ourselves by small, day-to-day behaviors that enable them to grow and develop. The idea that such relationships are of great value would not enter the minds of most 20-somethings, including our Facebook trio. Many are cavalier about friends, thinking that like a subway, another one will be coming along any moment, so why bother?

Young people like Saverin, Parker, and Zuckerberg are brilliant, but wisdom takes time to grow. The wise know that relationships are worth fighting for.

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