You probably are wondering what the heck I can be referring to with such a post title as this, but let me share a bit as to what I’ve been thinking over the last 24 hours.
Yesterday, I ended up with some extra time and dollars, so I ventured to the local AMC theater (which is a rare occurrence for yours truly–other than the occasional flick at the $2 cheap theater down the street) to catch the much anticipated and highly reviewed, “The Social Network.” Having been a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s work on the TV drama, “The West Wing” for some time now and as a Millennial who was a part of “the Facebook” in its early days–I wanted to see what this film was all hyped up to be.
It was the summer of 2005. I had just graduated from high school in the Boston area and was working as a Starbucks barista before I ventured out west to head to college in San Diego. One of my high school friends had already finished orientation at Boston College a.k.a. “BC” and was instant messaging me on AIM (doesn’t that seem like a long time ago?). She kept talking about this “really cool directory site only for college campuses” and how I should get on “the Facebook.” So, alas, I did. I logged on and she was one of my first friends on this new, up-and-coming online social hub. Little did I know then, the impact of such a site on the rest of my generation–but soon the rest of the world. As I went through that summer before college, realizing I was coming from across the country knowing no one in my incoming freshman class, I began “meeting” people in the new “Point Loma” network that was slowly growing. To this day, some of my very best and closest friends from college were those that I “met” and got to know well before we even actually met in person for the first time at New Student Orientation on campus.
The predominant idea from this film that still has me thinking inspired the title of this post. Mark Zuckerberg, played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg, is in the early stages of starting “the Facebook” and is talking with his business partner about the concept of the new social networking site. In this scene and later on, he highlights the focus on capitalizing on the exclusivity of the college experience. Just as he was unable to get into certain clubs on campus, Facebook would instead provide exclusive access to just “Harvard.edu” email address users for connecting with each other–seeing everything from what classes they were taking to their relationship status.
Obviously, Facebook has come quite a long way since its creation years ago. Clearly, we aren’t all Harvard students and instead, everyone and their mother (quite literally in my case!) is now “Facebook-ing” each other. It is this fact that doesn’t just make me think but creates a sense of irony to me. Zuckerberg’s creation of “The Social Network” was intended to be of utmost exclusivity; only open to Harvard students, quickly opening up to all college students across the country and now anyone with an email address on the face of the planet. In essence, we now have one of the most inclusive networks of people, larger than the populations of nearly all of the globalized countries of the world (with the exception of China & India).
Facebook’s boom in the last 6 years has inspired nearly every sector and industry to rethink how they do what they do. Social media has not just been a fad but become a medium in which business takes place, ideas are fostered and people are reached by corporations, organizations, causes, politicians, you name it. Who’s the last candidate for elected office that you saw that didn’t have a presence on Facebook?
Nonetheless, social networking is alive and well and there is much to be considered as our society and world aims to become more open and connected. Despite continued divisions among lines of race, religion and political ideology, in this case, the once exclusive has become ironically inclusive for all the world to join.