“The Social Network” is a film concerned with the nature of business, together with the manner in which the demands of business may be seen to relate to, and occasionally to challenge or damage, interpersonal relationships. A significant amount of the film’s emotional tension derives from the apparent betrayal of Eduardo Saverin by his former friend and business partner, Mark Zuckerberg. A crucial element of this betrayal is the apparent emphasis that Zuckerberg places on the growth of the Facebook brand over and above his friendship or loyalty to his co-founder. Importantly, the film illustrates the importance of human resources for the growth of a business, as well as the nature in which such a frame actively encourages the removal of those who do fit a particular company aim or image.
According to Bolman and Leaf (2008), the notion of the frame should be understood to refer to the manner in which a particular business understands itself, together with the world in which it operates, its long term goals and its individual priorities (p. 43). The human resource frame is one of the most significant frames that a business may employ and is typically understood to place a high priority on the value of individual members of staff. A business that works according to the human resource frame is likely to assert that its greatest strength lies in its employees, and it will therefore devote a significant amount of time and energy to attracting the best candidates for its positions, while also ensuring that its current employees feel valued. Bolmn and Leaf argue that it is possible to understand the human resource frame in terms of the priority it places on the “fit” between an individual and a company, therefore, that, according to this frame, when a fit between an organization and a worker is right, “individuals find meaningful and satisfying work, and organizations get the talent and energy they need to succeed” (p. 122).
This human resource frame may be seen to play an important role in both the emotional drama and the business narrative of “The Social Network.” In terms of the latter, the film makes clear that Facebook runs according to a frame in which individuals are allowed a significant degree of freedom and in which offices are built to be relaxing, even hedonistic spaces. During one sequence of the film Zuckerberg is shown working on the website while surrounded by friends enjoying a pool party and in another Saverin confronts him in the companies Silicon Valley head quarters, which are spacious and feature other workers relaxing and listening to music while they work.
This aesthetic suggest strongly that Zuckerberg’s aims to create an environment commensurate with the human resources frame, in which individuals are encouraged to be creative and find their work rewarding. This view is further emphasized in the film when Zuckerberg insists that he has people working on Facebook who are capable of doing things that nobody else can, again suggesting that the success of the company is based largely on its ability to generate the best fit between its goals and the apparently exceptional individuals that it employs. At the same time, however, Saverin’s ejection from the company and Zuckerberg’s own emotional detachment regarding his friend suggest that the human resource frame may actively encourage the poor treatment of those who do precisely fit the image of the company in question.
To conclude, therefore, “The Social Network” demonstrates two potential sides to the human resource frame. It shows, on the one hand, the frame’s capacity to encourage growth and creativity, and, on the other, its tendency to encourage the prioritizing of business relations over all other aspects of life and personality.