New Criticals

In 'The Social Network' the foundational myth of Facebook is narrated as a revenge drama. A young man who is depicted as insensitive and unempathetic to those around him is nonetheless acutely sensitive to the ways he feels slighted in life—by women, by wealth and class and elitism—and sets about righting the obstacles to his proper flourishing by way of an algorithm, which will fix the glitches of human-to-human social networks. In the film the widespread attachment to Facebook is this: you will know if someone is single without even having to ask; you will know who is like you without having to work it out yourself, without having to risk a mistake. The film supplies a story to make sense of the Facebook ideology of connection-as-distance. The film also gives away its own unease with this narrative. It depicts the violence of algorithmically encoding social life, the white male patriarchy of proving the world’s programmability. The Social Network offers a visual grammar of code: a cinema that is attentive to the task of representing code in its material and symbolic state and as an effacing gesture that is also a political reality of everyday life.