New Criticals

Such scenes narrativize code as constitutional. As Chun has written, the executability of code is not law, but rather “every lawyer’s dream of what law should be: automatically enabling and disabling certain actions and functioning at the level of everyday practice.” Here Zuckerberg is seen to be constituting a new social order, and this constitution is depicted as latent with meaning. The programming frenzy we watch on-screen is energized by a dramatization of historical affect that was lacking in the actual historical architecture of Facebook: Zuckerberg was hurting. The hurting leads to the hacking as a distraction (and as revenge), and the hacking involves scrolling through photos of women in Zuckerberg’s social network. In tension with the performance of what could have been—the emotional frenzy—is the banal affect of what has become—our distracted swiping, our protracted userness, our unresolving present, our scrolling through Facebook profiles. In other words, these scenes exemplify the digital banal: they are meant to be exciting and show us the dawn of some new thing, but the excitement and energy is displaced onto and dispersed throughout old things (partying, heartbreak, misogyny), and the means by which the new is being constituted—hacking—appears as just another text in the process of being written. In these early scenes of The Social Network, the audience is presented with a benign avowal of the new order, or, here a violent reordering of the social appears as a same old slice of life itself.