the social network

15 minutes

So I’ve seen The Social Network again. The last time I saw it was back in 2010 just after the premiere.

I feel this is still a great movie that did not age one bit, on the contrary, it became even better and more up-to-date with all that we know and have experienced in the year 2024.

From the cinematic point of view the movie is beautiful, with those shots, those colours, that montage. Atticus’ and Trent’s soundtrack is a cherry on top, highlighting what happens visually. The dialogues, the tempo, the back and forths between Mark and the rest are oh so good.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

Watching that movie today in 2024 gave me much food for thought than in 2010. Partly because I am older, partly because I am now a web developer, and partly because Facebook is now 20 years old, and we have all seen its rise and fall.

My story of using Facebook is probably similar to the stories of many of my peers. I’ve joined Facebook in the summer of 2008, between my first and second year at the university. The fact that I remember this date already says something. Around 2008 was the date that Facebook was gaining traction in general in Poland, and it was doing so on the smouldering ashes of other, older Polish platforms of similar kind, like Grono.

At that time Facebook was the cool thing at I was using it daily to connect with my friends. I remember updating statuses, posting tons of photos from parties of even simple walks. Facebook was used to coordinate plans even before there was Events or even Messenger. Poking was a thing. You people remember poking? And that simple, squarish interface? And the chronological timeline? And liking stupid pages like “putting water on your toothbrush” or “it rough”. And the facebook quizzes? The way FB was used back then was immortalized in the epic Youtube video made by some random guy who later became the most popular Polish rapper. Adding someone on Facebook was an important thing.

I have been using Facebook this way until somewhere around 2013? More or less. I finished University, I moved to other networks, mostly instagram and tumblr. People stopped posting personal stuff. Organic growth of fanpages was cut, the timeline became algorithmic, it got filled with ads and sponsored content.

That was the first total enshittification of a platform that I have encountered. And then came the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And accusation of tampering with elections outcomes. And Facebook just being a global playground for spreading hideous right wing propaganda.

At some point the situation arrived to what it is today. When I open Facebook today maybe 1% of the content I see is coming from people I know, the rest is just random pointless garbage. Face, as we used to call it, became an empty husk of itself, with Zuck moving to the Metaverse and its VR shitshow.

This post does not have a thesis or a moral. It’s just a reminiscence of a time in my life and the impact of one specific social network on it.

I can say with full certainty that I grew up and came of age on the Internet, and the period of Facebook was an important part of my Web upbringing. As someone said, those were the days, and now there are no days.

In the second scene of The Social Network, Zuck opens his LiveJournal to blog about his heartbreak. With the fall of Facebook and the rise of decentralized networks like Mastodon and rebirth of blogging, I feel that life is writing the new final scene of TSN, with the Internet coming full circle, from blogs to Facebook, to blogs. Just like this one. And all the ones I follow.

Thanks for reading!