The Social Network, status, and incentive

Mark Zuckerberg is a creep. I know this, you know this, the United States Congress knows this. Facebook is a website where its users are the product and is also one of the world’s greatest and best disguised pieces of surveillance malware. It does not have great track record for protecting its users, but I will say that I respect the man who created it. He’s a cutthroat, almost psychopathic businessman and a brilliant software engineer. After all, he did create one of the world’s largest electronic social networks and he did it with PHP before Composer came along and made PHP development less hacky. However, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s accomplishments, history will not remember him fondly.

Remember when I said that Mark Zuckerberg was psychopathic? I don’t actually believe that Mark Zuckerberg is dangerous in the conventional sense or that he means harm to anybody willfully. I do, however, believe that he is one of the exceptional people on this Earth who combats boredom by pushing himself to new limits. This type of single-minded determination can also be found in other great entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. But why do folks like Mark Zuckerberg do incredible things and push themselves to heights never before achieved? The push to achieve is largely driven by status. We respect and admire those who have achieved more than we have, and that admiration translates to more status in society, nation, family, and peer group. But what can you do with status? To answer this question we’re going to take a look at the film The Social Network, also known as the Facebook movie.

The Social Network is a film that details the founding of Facebook and the dirty deeds done by its founders. It’s an entertaining film with a lot of drama about status and where people stand in relation to one another. Its depiction of Mark Zuckerberg is speculative at best and libelous at worst, but it works in a dramatic context and provides a story that I latched onto. That story, become great to win back a girl, is an example of what you can do with or hope to do with status. Mark Zuckerberg ultimately doesn’t win back his ex-girlfriend, but it does raise a few interesting questions about his behavior and the consequences of his actions: Why did Mark Zuckerberg spend all that time building a successful business knowing that it might not pay off and achieve his desired outcome? Why did his ex-girlfriend not respond to his superior status, but so many other girls did? Most importantly, I think, why is it that society hands the reigns of society to nerds but affords them second-class citizen status in terms of social relationships?

Our society today runs on technology that is dependent on nerds to keep running. I’m not the only one to have noticed this, and I will definitely not be the last. For all intents and purposes, programmers and nerds run the world, but still nerds and programmers act the same as they did in high school and are ultimately treated the same way as they were in high school. Now, I enjoy a good “Mark Zuckerberg” is a robot meme as much as anyone else, but it doesn’t make sense to make fun of the guy who effectively owns all your communications. That ultimately begs the question: Why/how did we hand over all our communications to one company?