Why I like Mark Zuckerberg
October 07, 2010, 01:06 AM
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The Social Network exaggerates how asocial the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is. In comparison to how Jesse Eisenberg plays him, Zuckerberg has a likable smile (and the computer nerd is even a little better looking than the movie star who plays him, which is odd).

Still, Zuckerberg has certain traits that seem, on the surface, ironic for the founder of Facebook. For example, unlike all the millions who go on Facebook (or Twitter or their blog) to alert their hundreds of close friends that they are going to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and some toilet paper, Zuckerberg is quite private. And, relative to most billionaires, he also doesn`t seem to be that socially or sexually ambitious, as the paparazzi pictures from Roissy`s blog that I linked to in my review of the movie suggest.

Of course, when you stop and think about it, the kind of person who would likely do a better job of abstracting out the rules of how social interactions work is exactly like Zuckerberg: somebody who is not at all autistic, but who is just enough outside the human personality mainstream to be struck by, say, the fact that people like to tell you stuff about their day that isn`t very important; and that, therefore, you could get rich by giving people a computerized way to efficiently tell even more people stuff about their day that isn`t very important.

Similarly, Adam Smith was good at thinking about making money in general because he didn`t spend all that much time thinking about making money for himself in particular.

In Aaron Sorkin`s screenplay, however, Zuckerberg is the antihero because he says out loud the kind of things that everybody feels. In the now-famous opening scene that establishes him as the bad guy, his girlfriend dumps him for saying things like that he wants to social climb into higher circles. Why in the world would he want to do that? "Because they`re exclusive and fun and they lead to a better life."

That makes Zuckerberg a bad person because you aren`t supposed to say that (you are just supposed to do that).

Zuckerberg is a fish who notices that he, and all the other fish, are wet. Obviously, I rather identify with Zuckerberg (minus the seven billion dollars).

If my one important insight is that race and genealogy are more or less all part of the same thing — that a racial group is a partly inbred extended family, a definition that makes how the world works simpler to understand in many ways — then the reason I noticed that in the abstract is because I care a little bit less than most people about things like race and genealogy at the personal level. For a variety of reasons, I`m slightly less invested emotionally in such things than the average human.

And because I say out loud stuff I`ve figured out about how the game is played, that makes me a bad person.

Perhaps. It`s possible that if I succeed in explaining to more people more about how the game is played, that will lead to all sorts of horrible consequences because I, due to my mild personality, just don`t understand how horrible people would be to each other if they found out the truth.

Or, possibly, the people who are winning at the game right now just don`t want more competition from the currently clueless.

I don`t know.