Last Sunday night I did what I’m sure many of you were doing at the time – I sat on my sofa and got lost in the online world of Facebook.
But no, I wasn’t sitting at home. I was actually in one of my very favourite places in Bath – the Little Theatre – watching a film about how Facebook slowly devoured the world around us. In a cinema.
On a settee.
For the Little Theatre has introduced a new balcony which allows you to sit and watch a film on a lovely two seater sofa complete with beautifully plumped-up cushions. It feels like home from home – although my own sofa is not nearly as nice as theirs – and I’m sure will be lovely if you were part of a canoodling couple. (Unlike me as I was with my 17-year-old-son who’s never a great one for canoodling, to be honest).
I have to say that opinions between us on the ‘sofa in the cinema’ experience were polar opposites. I thought it was a wonderful luxury because, as I put it, “it’s like watching the film at home”. But that was exactly the problem for him. Even at the tender age of 17 he’s a cinema traditionalist and he said he goes out to the cinema precisely because he doesn’t want to watch a film at home. I’m sure he would feel different if he was in a canoodling mood though ...
As for the film itself, The Social Network, I simply cannot recommend it enough. It is the remarkable, true (?) story of a nerdy young man who had fallen out with his girlfriend and wanted a way of telling the world about it who stumbled on the idea of Facebook. It now has 500 million users and has made our ‘hero’ the youngest billionaire on the planet.
The story charts the rise and rise of the site and the rise and fall of his friends who helped him to set it up and is told in shifting time between court cases and the university days where it all started. It is a great film – beautifully acted and stylishly written by Aaron Sorkin, the genius behind the brilliant West Wing. He is a man that dares to treat audiences as if they’ve got intelligence but want to be entertained as well.
As someone who contributed to a BBC radio debate this week about the rise of the internet and how people shouldn’t be frightened of it, I am fascinated by the whole Facebook story because so many people are obsessed with it, and yet I’m sure we’ve all got items of clothing that are older than this now seemingly universal site.
To actually see how it came together almost by accident proves the point that some of the best ideas come from the most unlikely people and the most unlikely sources. Intriguingly, the man behind it barely saw any financial benefits and, as becomes very clear in the movie, he was never motivated by money and apparently isn’t so today.
That’s why much as I love the current series of The Apprentice, if you’re looking for the future brains in our country, I think you’d be better looking at the unlikeliest kid in the classroom rather than the sharp-suited people trying to impress Lord SirAllunSugar.
So, if you get the chance, pop along and see The Social Network and if you want to enjoy it in unique circumstances then why not curl up on the sofa at the Little Theatre?
The only problem is you may drift off to sleep in that settee. But don’t worry – I can reveal that the man from Facebook did well.