When I saw a wall post – my friend was showing me her Facebook page and there was a wall post there that said, "Had a girls night last night, split five desserts, better hit the gym this morning." I thought, "She's re-invented herself as Ally McBeal – the single 30- something making it on her own, because that's a character everybody loves." She is not talking to anyone; she is writing at people. She is writing for an audience; it seems to me a kind of slightly depressingly insincere form of socializing. The only analogy I can think of is that socializing on the internet is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.
Or what interviewing someone is to getting drinks with them.
Yeah, you're exactly right. You're asking me questions; I'm thinking a lot about my answers, because I want your readers to come see the movie, and to like me. That's an entirely different agenda than just a regular conversation has. The same can also be said, though, about the difference between real life and when I write a scene. The properties of people and the properties of characters have almost nothing in common. The properties of a normal conversation that would happen naturally have almost nothing in common with the properties of what you need to write dialogue, and what the audience expects of a scene when a professional writer is writing it.
How did you reconcile the stupid things that people toss off on the internetwith the articulate-ness of Zuckerberg's character?
I'd like hackers to see the movie, too, so I don't want to insult anybody. But I will say that there is a real anger there, a real rage, that's nothing about the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the '80s – that's about being on the outside looking in. Especially now that we're living in a digital word. There's a subset of tech geniuses who are absolutely enraged that girls like you still want to go out with the quarterback and not them, that you don't understand that they're the ones running the universe, and so it just fuels their anarchy. That's what the second scene in the movie is about. Mark gets broken up with by Erica; he goes back, and he commits an act of anarchy. He's drinking, he's blogging, he comes up with this revenge stunt. He's going to compare women to farm animals. The whole thing goes viral. What's funny is that they still fancy themselves anarchists if they are running companies the size of CVS or General Motors. I hate to break it to you, pal; you're the establishment now.
Do you think that Zuckerberg achieved the goal you gave him in the film, in real life, of trying to destroy these strict social compartments?
When you're feeling really bad about something – about something that happens at work, or in relationships, if you're just feeling blue – do you ever feel like, "If I just buy that lamp, I'm gonna feel great?" Living in Los Angeles I know a lot of women who marry wealthy guys, stop working, their sense of self-worth is measured in shoes, parties they get invited to, seats they get at events, status. Nothing ever fills that void. How big a diamond is, that the husband — or usually the ex-husband by now — buys them doesn't fill that void. That's the long way of saying, at the end of the movie, I think Mark's feeling a lot of things; contentment isn't one of them. I think he's paid a big price. I think he feels remorse. I think that's why for the first hour and 55 minutes of the movie he's an anti-hero, and for the last five minutes he's a tragic hero.