A kick-ass review of a film I don’t want to see about a network I don’t want to know describes the crux of the matter like this:
His opacity leads to an irony that’s not quite tragic but, in light of how many of us share it, still plenty sad. Zuckerberg and his employees spend enormous time and energy trying to make people connect to each other via their online social network, but they’ve got the situation backward.
The route to a happy life, let alone a meaningful one, doesn’t lie in escaping loneliness. As Wilder tried to tell his audience, it is an inescapable part of living in a country as big and free and unencumbered as this one. (See also the testimony of Hank Williams Sr., Billie Holiday, Edward Hopper, Bessie Smith.) The trick for us, and for the people around the world living as we do, lies in using our loneliness.
Wilder stated the challenge best and for all time when he described “the typical American battle of trying to convert a loneliness into an enriched and fruitful solitude.” Like the Berglunds—or another touchstone of contemporary culture, Don Draper—these characters can’t get along with each other because they haven’t learned to get along with, and don’t even really know, themselves.
I am foolish for thinking this, but I hope the making of a meta-movie about the founding of the meta-“friend” network signals that network’s peak as a cultural phenomenon, it’s final bright flash as an “It” topic before it follows the many MySpace’s that came before it by becoming just another medium — and not The Medium, über alles.
(Oh, how it really kills me that it’s said to be a good movie!)
Here is meta-irony: To promote the movie about the world’s biggest network of friends who aren’t friends, they pitched other social networks and made a trailer using a remake (a good, haunting choral remake, I must admit) of a song by the world’s most famous band that didn’t want to be famous, using the uncharacteristic single that first made them famous, the single they didn’t actually like to play.
[No one — and I mean NO ONE — captured the “Creep” phenomenon better than Beavis & Butthead in their hilarious bit.]
Better yet, the trailer version uses the cleansed adverb “so very” (instead of the original “so fucking” [special]), which is exactly the bit of nod-to-Wal-Mart censorship that enabled that single so much airplay in the first place, a perfect dose of homogenization for a movie about a network that homogenizes human relationships.
I’m not a total ass: I don’t mind Facebook itself or all my friends who use it. I just mind how so many people choose to use it (feeding its dominance in the process), bleeding real-life relationships into the kind of self-promotion and use-you relationships that make one turn away from people in the first place. And working in a time and place where FB is the latest “powerful” phenomenon that MUST be utilized, I get well over my nauseating fill of just how people, um, utilize it.
It’s possible I just like the “loneliness” (used with positive connotation) too much to stomach a world where “friends” are coming out of the woodwork in every waking moment, including your smartphone-connected walk between the car and the store. But when I see the way so many people spam these networks with fleeting pleas for attention, I get the feeling that — like that review says — they are desperately trying to escape the loneliness rather than first try to know themselves.