The lure of lu‘c’re

Midway through the movie The Social Network, I was stricken by a compulsive need to update my status on Facebook with “The first half of Social Network is brilliant. Fincher does a fascinating spin on what could have been just a regular docudrama.” The recursive act of “facebook”ing about a movie about Facebook was not lost on me, even as I got two likes and a comment even before I was done swallowing my first mouthful of popcorn. The odd thing was that the friends who I would have most wanted to get the message across to were right in the theatre with me. The odder thing was that the three responses came from them. Okay, I made all that up but the truth is that this is not too far from reality. The emergence of the need to socialise in the electronic space is as fascinating as it is flummoxing. While it is not uncommon to see people twiddling away on their cell phones in a group or tap away on a laptop when there is an opportunity to have a real physical conversation, they are more than eager to use these very devices to connect to people.

Business with friends and relatives is a tricky proposition with a lot of pitfalls. People often have trouble dealing with money and emotions at the same time, and often fail to draw up the formal paperwork and agreements that should go with running a business

Add to this a tendency to be borderline exhibitionist. Amidst all this talk of loss of privacy on social networks, it is a fact that people have evolved to open up a lot more on them, baring every significant and insignificant detail of their life, their likes, dislikes, opinions and rants, fully aware that everybody, nobody, somebody on your network has access to that information. Did this need to let the world know of what you are up to, spring up suddenly or, have we always been naturally attention seeking and social networks just created the opportunity for us to feed that need? Whatever be the origins, it has presented a fantastic business opportunity. What started out with potential to be just another advertising revenue based model has metamorphosed into a completely different beast. Movie and music promotions, corporate Facebook pages, celebrity pages and social gaming have all jumped on the bandwagon, harnessing the power of this ever available, easily reachable target market. The evolution of consumer electronics has also aligned itself with satisfying the requirement to be always connected to one’s social network. In the movie and probably in real life, the germination of the idea of a social network seems to have had far less lofty ambitions. It starts off primarily as a mish-mash between a glorified dating website and some kind of an exclusive clique and picks up and grows into something the creators hardly imagined. Though the movie’s main premise is examining the irony of a seemingly socially inept guy developing something that enables millions to forge and sustain relationships and ending with him trying to make it work for himself, it also does an equally competent job of showcasing an old-fashioned morality tale of being led astray by greed and avarice.

And that precisely was the thing that interested me more. Initially, Zuckerberg is shown to be totally apathetic to the prospects of making money out of his idea. In fact it is Eduardo, by virtue of being the sole investor who is eager to rake in revenues. Zuckerberg seems content with the coolness factor of his creation and its potential to help him meet, connect with and impress the girls. But when he meets Sean Parker, a virtual stand-in for Satan, different ideas and ambitions- of fame, money and unfathomable expansion take form and take control of his actions. This transformation is so subtle, and so inconspicuous that it is scary when you see him succumb to the temptation that money holds, the intoxication it provides, the highs that it can bring and cloud his judgment.

Business with friends and relatives is a tricky proposition with a lot of pitfalls. People often have trouble dealing with money and emotions at the same time, and often fail to draw up the formal paperwork and agreements that should go with running a business irrespective of whom it is with. But the thing about money is that it doesn’t require one to be a flawed character or unscrupulous to yield to its charms. It merely needs to tap into the basic inherent human traits of want and desire to be able to do its thing. Since it is a matter of trust and faith, there is a tendency to tread with trepidation, afraid of causing affront and offence but, a few moments of awkwardness is a miniscule price to pay for a valuable relationship that lasts a lifetime.