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The Anti-Social Network: Part I.

In which I talk about That Movie About Facebook, That Other Movie About Facebook, and me.


I started writing this on February 3, and I feel like it might be time to continue this train of thought, and get on with it.

This marks the beginning series of posts has been stewing in my head for the past couple of months, and because I’d been putting it off for so long, I was afraid I’d never get to post it—here I am, at 4:25 AM, writing a crapshot introduction for it. In case it’s not common knowledge, I have currently been enamored by a certain film called The Social Network. To be honest, I expected very little from it, and only really wanted to see it a little bit. How the frak was I supposed to know that it was going to turn me into a crazy lady?

But I digress.

The Social Network is a semi-fictitious account that follows the dissolution of the friendship that founded Facebook, not-so-arguably the biggest social networking site to date. (It’s based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires,” which was based on the story of Eduardo Saverin, Mark Zuckerberg and the website that came between them.) On paper, it sounds like a horribly drab film—I can see you now, shaking your head and asking: “You want me to waste the hours I haven’t already wasted on Facebook, watching the story about the dorks that came up with it?”—but I maintain that it’s pretty much a stroke of genius.

It’s curious to see how a movie about something as cold and (strangely) impersonal as a website can cause this much noise. It’s gotten a lot of awards show buzz and recognition, aside from all the crazy stanning from the Tumblr community—me, included. Zadie Smith wrote a pretty telling review on it for The New York Review of Books, which caused me to think about my relationship with Facebook, with the people I am friends with on Facebook, and ultimately, the Internet.

“That other movie about Facebook” is called Catfish. Set up as a documentary, it follows the unlikely friendship of photographer Nev Schulman with an eight-year-old girl, Abby, over the Internet—a relationship which might be the least creepy situation that we encounter for the rest of the film. He eventually forms bonds with the rest of Abby’s family, with much of the attention shifting to her gorgeous half-sister, Megan. I watched it a couple of days after I saw The Social Network, and I’ve written a review about it for Pelikula, but I feel like it’s worth revisiting, for the sake of argument.

One of the biggest points that Catfish is trying to assert is pretty obvious: don’t believe everything you see read on the Internet. What people seem to take away from The Social Network is that Mark Zuckerberg is something of a douchebag, but I suppose it’s just because it is less upfront about Facebook’s social implications. Helpfully, Smith’s review touches on a lot of things that many might have missed or overlooked.

I am thinking about the projected length of this discussion, and I feel like it’s going to take me a while to sort out my thoughts, so this will come in parts. Also, I’ve bought and read most of Jaron Lanier’s “You Are Not a Gadget,” which Smith reviews along with The Social Network. She makes up and uses a term that I have since adopted as my personal goal; I’ve been re-learning how to be a Person 1.0.

What exactly is a Person 1.0? I couldn’t really tell you right now, but I’m looking into that. All I know is that technology has rapidly been shaping the way we interact with people, as well as how we function as human beings. I don’t know about you, but often I’ve let slip computer jargon in “RL” conversations. I’ve asked people to delete what I just said, or to please compress their story into a .zip file because I have no time for it right now. (Just kidding about the .zip part, but wouldn’t that be amazing?) Sometimes, I wish I could just CTRL+F a Philosophy text to get to a term which has a definition escapes me. Do you not groan at the injustice of it all?

Lately, I’ve been weaning myself off of the Internet—or so it seems. I have been online, sure, but my “presence” hasn’t really been active. Is this progress? I doubt it. I think I just found other useless things to do. Or, I just got too lazy, or it finally dawned on me that, No, Carina, the Internet doesn’t need another GPOY. However, I’d like to think that I’d been spending my time on fairly productive things. I mean, I do feel a little bit more self-fulfilled, occasionally. I don’t know if that means anything.

In any case: there it is, really. I’m re-learning how to be a Person 1.0, and thinking about what that means. At some point in my life, I’m sure I was a Person 1.0. It’s just really fascinating to step back and think about just how much technology has shaped and changed the way we view the world, and how we think. It’s astonishing, and it’s mind-blowing, and that is probably why people don’t really think about it all too much. This is so ingrained in our culture and our habits.

It’s scary because it suggests some kind of major alterations in the world. I mean, at the rate that technology is already shaping the present (and in turn, the future), I think it’s safe to assume that big things are going to happen. And it’s scary that we don’t know just what these changes are going to bring about. Like I said, social implications are inevitable, but think about other possible revisions to life as we now know it. I think it is potentially terrifying, and it doesn’t help that everything is very, very possible.

This is just the beginning of what I hope to be a string of fairly coherent thoughts about the future. At the very least, I hope I make sense. I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of all of this is, at this point, but I’m fairly sure that, given the scope and the subject matter, it may very well concern you, Person 2.0. Don’t try to deny it! The fact that you are on a computer, reading this obscure blog by some nobody from the Philippines, means that you kind of know your way around what a Person 1.0 would call “The Information Super Highway.”

Don’t worry, fellow Person 2.0. We can find a way to make it better.