Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another untimely review: The Social Network

I am late to the Facebook party. For a few months, I've been a wallflower at the Facebook party, content to dance with my wife, who is my date to this party. To this party, I have brought a book, and a lot of other things to do.

Just because I'm not participating in the party does not mean I'm not interested in what is going on. I'm intrigued by the theories behind the interaction and relationships. I'm annoyed that social media is criticized for being a network of faux relationships. People are going to use Facebook, Twitter and the like, and the methodology of these relationships will evolve. I will do my best to observe the qualities of these interactions and offer theological and social science perspectives with as open a mind as possible. I'm not really sure Facebook is for me. I find the Facebook platform a bit overwhelming, like I felt about dances in high school and college. I have been a bit defiant about Facebook over the past two years, but I've chosen to be more of a curious observer and student of the platform rather than an outspoken critic.

The movie The Social Network has changed my perspective enough that I am willing to learn more about Facebook. I got to that point through the review of Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post. I enjoy her film reviews with Tony Kornheiser on Fridays, and her praise of The Social Network caused me to reflect on my relationship with social media more deeply. Rather than see Facebook as a mere toy, time-passer, or cultural fad, watching the film gave me a deeper sense of the connection between communication, relationships and commerce. We all make choices about our communication methodology. The call for a Christian is to discern how to make the way we communicate a reflection of the grace we have received. In that sense, Facebook is value neutral. However, the Social Network does not make any of the main characters, or even the folks with the bit parts look good. No character is glorified. What I find compelling is the craft and intelligence behind the platform, and what sin can do to any method of communication. The Social Network is driven by story and script writing (skillfully and enjoyably executed), and not reliant on the cache of the actors (though I agree with Hornaday that their skill should be recognized). For any student of human relationships and talents, The Social Network is a positive investment of your time.

If you think that The Social Network is not worth your time, at least learn from this review that the wallflowers at the party will go on observing while others are partying it up.

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