Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spent his educational days at the elite Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and later at Harvard, although only briefly. Why then is he donating $100 million to the troubled Newark, NJ, school system? Some would like to believe that it’s because the new movie “The Social Network” paints the face of Facebook in an unsympathetic way. However, Zuckerberg claims to have a deep concern for the state of education in this country, and was likely influenced by a documentary that is being released the same day as “The Social Network” — a documentary uncovering the state of the American education system called “Waiting for Superman.”
In the end, does it really matter why?
Known as a guy with very poor social skills, Zuckerberg’s social network has changed the lives of millions. Facebook has enabled us to stay connected with the world without ever having to leave the comforts of our own homes. At least he has changed my world. Like Zuckerberg, I am socially awkward as well. I maintain very few close relationships with people and have a very small world. Facebook has enabled me to connect with more people whom I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. It has also enabled me to reconnect with people — whether I wanted to or not!
For someone who maintains a very small social circle for good reasons, Facebook has definitely enabled me to venture outside that circle from time to time. I have been able to share and exchange ideas with peers and have conversations with people I have never even met in the outside world. It has been a great place to follow some of my favorite recording artists and keep up to date on other areas of pop culture. It has also been a place for me to have a voice when I otherwise might not have one. When you’re shy and awkward in most situations, any opportunity to express yourself is welcomed. Then there is the feedback I get on my work as a photographer. What better place to solicit feedback than a community filled with so many different personalities!
Of course, there is the downside to Facebook as well. As the network went down on Thursday, Sept. 23, Twitter activity took off with tweets joking about office productivity going up. While I watched live feeds of tweets hitting the Internet on the subject, waiting for Facebook to come back online, I had to wonder if productivity would go up. There are three things I open first on the internet as soon as I sign into my computer at the office: Facebook, webmail, and CNN. Do I really need to have Facebook open at work at all day? It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do, but it provides me with a great distraction and the perfect opportunity for me to procrastinate. What am I really going to miss by not checking in on the online social lives of my 167 Facebook friends? Does everyone really need to know what my status is every second of the day? It’s almost like an addiction now.
While I am interested in seeing “The Social Network” and catching a glimpse at how one kid from Harvard got this phenomenon started, I will most likely wait for it to hit Neflix. No matter how the movie portrays Zuckerberg, it doesn’t matter. He’s a 26-year-old billionaire. You have to admire the guy for that.