'The Social Network', 'Catfish' and your circle of friends

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 10:31 Written by  JimmyO
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'The Social Network', 'Catfish' and your circle of friends

With the recent release of Catfish and of course, The Social Network which arrives in theatres this coming Friday, it is clear that what Mark Zuckerberg started back on February 4th, 2004 has become a major force in society today.

There was a time, long before Facebook, where people met the old fashioned way… face to face. Whether it was at a club, or a grocery store or possibly even work, the idea of making friends on-line was mostly delegated to dating services and Chris Hansen and his frightening news series, “Dateline: To Catch a Predator”.

Yet all that has changed. In the past few years, social networking sites have stretched beyond simply college students chatting about parties and each other. Membership for the extremely popular Facebook has reached over 500 million according to Dawn.com, and since that was back in July, the number has probably grown since then. As it is, these are pretty hefty numbers, so it is clearly no surprise that Hollywood took notice.

David Fincher’s The Social Network expertly portrays the making of this mega-company and the impact it had on those involved. Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Mara Rooney and the rest of the cast make a seriously compelling drama with Fincher at the helm. A front-runner for this year’s Academy Awards, the film takes a deep, dark look at building an empire, one where people are connected by merely the click of a button.

Once you receive a “Friend Request”, you have the option of accepting that person into your “small” circle of friends, or ignoring it. Generally, it is just as easy to accept this person into your life. Would you automatically saddle up with somebody outside of the internet? Probably not! In the real world, you get to know them, find out what they like and maybe even become close… or not. Yet Facebook friends are oftentimes out of sight and out of mind. You don’t have to know a damn thing about that person who wants to get to know you, and happens to “Like” the same things you do.

While The Social Network looks at the massively big picture, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, the directors of Catfish learned about the validity of an on-line relationship on a much more personal level. Once Nev Schulman (Ariel’s brother) started his relationship with the mysterious Megan Faccio on Facebook, things started to get murky. Yet what Nev goes through is unique in the fact that most of us will not take a cinematic adventure to track down our “friends”. At most, we will comment on a posted video or wish somebody we don’t really know a happy birthday.

Will this social networking on-line simply end up a “fad”? Or will it simply drive humanity deeper into a lonely world with a keyboard as their best friend? This weekend presents itself for an intriguing double feature. With the success of these films, we are likely to see more feature films and documentaries (and who knows what else) explore social networks and the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it.

The question is, do you have a strange story about meeting somebody on-line? Whether it is funny, charming, or even scary, we’d love to hear it? Share in the comments below!

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