Truth, Story & “The Social Network”

I didn’t see every movie up for an Oscar, but I’m rooting for “The Social Network.” I saw it back in the fall and still think about it.

I knew going into the theater that Aaron Sorkin said that “story” was more important than “truth.” I knew that some liberties had been taken. With the character of Mark Zuckerberg and what he was really like and what really happened.

So of course, when I got home, I hit the Internet to do a little digging.  To try and separate fact from fiction — which made the movie even more fascinating because it keeps you guessing and it keeps you wondering.

I still get a handful of “eff you” emails every once in a while from students at the my former high school. It’s not something particularly fun, but it comes with the territory and I can understand their anger.  I loved my high school. 

I try to imagine how I would feel if I was a student there now and how I would feel about about a book called “Whores on the Hill” that people were saying was about my school.  I would probably be pissed too.  

But here’s the thing: I’m a fiction writer.  My job is to write a good story.  And I wanted to write about what it feels like to be a teenage girl. 

I’ve been taught that the best fiction comes from a mix of memory and invention.  

So I took a kernel of truth and I spun it and turned it and changed it into something new.  I weaved in a mix of real stories and things that I heard and things I invented. I made a new story — one that didn’t really happen to me or to my friends, exactly. But that felt true. That felt like it could have happened. That felt real.

At the end of the day, whether it really happened like that or didn’t or sort of did but slightly different, the real question is: is it a good story?

I do wonder about Sorkin.  I wonder if he’s received a legion of “eff you” emails from Facebook fans and Zuckerberg friends and what not. Although I doubt it. 

Because that movie was effing great.

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