After seeing “The Social Network,” all I could think of was why Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, felt the need to announce a $100 million donation to Newark, N.J., public schools on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” the same day the movie was released.
Many have called Zuckerberg’s donation nothing more than a way to moderate the criticism he knew he’d receive after being portrayed negatively in the movie. Like the rest of the public, I have no clue as to the real sequence of events that led to Zuckerberg becoming the world’s youngest billionaire at one point, so I can only react to his actions as presented in the movie.
That said, I found little in the movie very surprising, much less controversial.
Zuckerberg is portrayed as a socially awkward nerd who responds to rejection in his dating life with a program 8212; Facebook 8212; that makes a virtual experience look more like reality than any program or concept before it. He uses his limited knowledge of corporate business structure to do what he feels is best for the future of Facebook and angers other people in the process.
I have no qualms with his course of action, nor do I fault him for taking the risks necessary to expand a company in the new industry of social networking.
“The Social Network” uses very strong stereotyping of college life to tell its story. Fraternities are portrayed as unregulated, elitist drinking clubs that haze their members, and the university president is a distant figure who refuses to spend any of his time interacting with undergraduate students. Spend a day at TCU and you can learn those generalizations aren’t true, at least not here.
One underlying theme that unfortunately is not emphasized enough in the movie is the benefit of taking risk in society.
In any truly free market, especially one where technology can rapidly change daily life, one must take risks to succeed. From our Founding Fathers to Americans who moved west in frontier times to the businessmen of the early 1900s who capitalized on the Industrial Revolution and all the way to successful entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg, all Americans who have progressed the human experience in our country have taken huge risks.
I’ve always found it ironic that college students are encouraged to think progressively and creatively and to question the status quo but must conform to a rigid and monotonous academic system if they want to be successful. Everything in our society has become incredibly safe. Most organizations and companies now have risk management departments or teams, and we all know the obnoxiously-overused phrase, “safety first.”
In the midst of our hand-sanitized, climate-controlled, risk-free lives, we’d be fools to forget the benefit of exploring new concepts, often involving substantial risk. Any gambler can tell you that it doesn’t always work out, but if we teach our youth to “go with the flow,” we shouldn’t expect any progress or innovation.
Luckily, entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg still exist in our generation to show us what can happen when one puts his or her imagination to work and does so with unceasing diligence. As a young adult just beginning my career path, I’m encouraged by true stories like the one told in “The Social Network” that show the benefit of taking risks in attempting to accomplish life goals.
John Andrew Willis is a senior Spanish major from Dallas.