Licensed by Randall Munroe under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Noncommercial License
I’m pretty sure a monkey must have designed AT&T’s sales and tech support system. That’s not to say that the actual staff are monkeys — they’re perfectly nice people trying their best, but at the end of the day, they can only do whatever their sales / tech support computer software lets them do. Basically, I’m saying the engineers who designed this entire system were monkeys.
Or at the very least, their managers were.
But first, the beginning of this story: Back in April or May or so, I decided to switch from Comcast to AT&T for Internet service — mostly because I was pissed off about how they were raising my bill by $1 each month. The bills, of course, provided no helpful hints about why the amount kept going up. Yes, I could’ve just called Comcast and contested it, but I wasn’t keen to get into a pissing match with Comcast over $1. So I decided to dump the bastards altogether and switch to the only other game in town — AT&T.
I have a longish list of coincidences between my life and Mark Zuckerberg’s. It extends beyond going to Harvard and founding a startup but does not include success. So watching The Social Network was unsettling, to say the least.
That’s not what this post is about. This post is about how accurately the film portrays Harvard. Note that there may be spoilers below, so read at your own risk.
Anyhow, it’s easy to point out what the film gets wrong. Life at the Harvard I knew was not driven by final clubs and rigid social hierarchies. The notion that Zuckerberg screwed Eduardo Saverin because Zuckerberg was jealous about Saverin getting into the Phoenix is just slightly more plausible than Barack Obama being born in Kenya. That opening scene where’s there some musical prodigy playing violin outside in the courtyard? The only person I knew playing violin outside at night was homeless. And he sucked.
I think this misses the point. What The Social Network gets right is the mythology of Harvard. Yes, the mythology doesn’t accurately reflect what Harvard actually was (or is), but Harvard students were intimately aware of it. To the extent that the film portrays how out of place that mythology is within the real world, it captures the zeitgeist of the Harvard. Continue reading