That’s right, folks. The Winklevii are back and baring their teeth. In case you are part of the .0001 percent of the population that didn’t see “The Social Network,” the movie that will supposedly define our generation, and are still thinking that the only possible definition of a winklevii could be the distant cousin of a widget, that annoying hypothetical product that our econ problem sets always seem to be producing, let me regale you with the tale of Facebook’s founding and the Winklevoss brothers’ quest for vindication.
So who are these “Winklevii”? Once upon a time in a land of milk and Crimson, there was a nerdy NJB (Nice Jewish Boy) named Mark Zuckerberg, and two rowing twins named Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The Winklevii, along with some Indian dude who really doesn’t get enough credit for being part of this whole operation, came up with the idea to start a dating site for Harvard students called Harvard Connect. They wanted Mark to help them with the website design, and Mark agreed, only to immediately disappear and found Facebook, which has since exploded in size in the cyberspace equivalent of the big bang.
The Winklevii were pissed and determined to make Facebook’s legal bills rival those of the Clinton administration, and now Let’s Sue, round II, is in the works. Although the Winklevii sued Facebook and settled six years ago, they’re now back for more and want to undo their original settlement and have another go at Facebook. Their happiness appears to have been as fleeting as a rocket launch. They still feel the need to prove to the world who is really responsible for Facebook. In the sage words of Tyler Winklevoss, “the principle is that Mark stole the idea.”
Despite having tried to puzzle out who is truly responsible for the creation of Facebook for about a week after I saw “The Social Network,” I am still not entirely sure who spawned this titan. As with the creation of most things larger than a beluga whale, it was probably a group effort.
Perhaps more importantly, though, I think that we can learn the important life lesson of moving on from watching these Winklevii try to make Facebook eat dung for the second time. Now I know that I am in no position to say that I understand what it feels like to switch on the light upstairs, so to speak, for a guy like Mark Zuckerberg and then have him create a website that not only is worth billions upon billions of dollars, but also completely and fundamentally changes how we relate to each other socially. In terms of general discomfort, I would guess it probably most closely resembles being continually sucker-punched.
But I can say that, for a long time, I, very much like the Winklevii, had a similar sense of entitlement: the cookie had to crumble my way every time, and everyone around me had to help me let the world know when someone wasn’t behaving properly towards me. In my slightly older age, though, I have come to realize that life isn’t completely fair, and since abandoning my religious following of the mantra “don’t get mad, get even,” I have actually led a much happier life. Sure, I still have my moments when I lose perspective. There was the time that my iPod got stolen at the gym, and I vowed to alert every member of Yale Security of the robbery to make sure that whoever was listening to my “groovin with T-swift” playlist was caught. But for the most part I have left behind the notion that I have the power to make everything go my way all the time, and moreover, that the world owes me that right in the first place.
I’m not saying stealing is right. And there are times when it is well worth it to sue. My point is to count your blessings, and remember that in the grand scheme of things, if you have the luxury to read this article, you, like the Winklevii, are probably better off than much of the world. Next thing we know, these widget relatives are going to be suing DateHarvardsq, an online dating site for Harvard men. This site hasn’t caught on quite like Facebook yet, but when it finally goes supernova and the lawsuits rolls around, remember to tell everyone who called it first. Otherwise, I suppose I’ll have to sue.
Maddie Broder is a sophomore in Morse College.