Opinion | The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley

I used to be not impressed and had joked to at least one of his executives that Mr. Zuckerberg seemed like a jerk. So, of course, after an ungainly whats up, the very first thing he ever mentioned to me was: “I hear you suppose I’m an asshole.”

For the file, I by no means did, together with after taking a stroll with him round city. Taking walks was (and nonetheless is) his odd signature factor; each tech founder has one. (Jeff Bezos: doorways for desks and that giggle; Sergey Brin: yoga pants and bizarre sneakers; Elon Musk: so, so many, and all fairly ingenious.)

On that compelled stroll, there was one phrase that he saved coming again to: Facebook was a “utility.”

It was a curious metaphor to decide on, as a result of it was not the effortlessly hip picture of his rival again then, Myspace, nor the multicolored eternal Willy Wonka celebration that was happening over at Google. It was a uninteresting, blue, useful, we-keep-the-lights-on-ma’am idea that was, pondering again on it, fairly telling.

That’s as a result of it was based mostly in the concept that Facebook was primarily benign. Worse: Mr. Zuckerberg caught with this combine of excessive earnestness and willful naïveté for a lot too lengthy.

Because what he by no means managed to grok then was that the corporate he created was destined to grow to be a template for all of humanity, the digital reflection of lots of folks throughout the globe. Including — and particularly — the unhealthy ones.

Was it as a result of he was a pc main who left school early and didn’t attend sufficient humanities programs that may have alerted him to the uglier facets of human nature? Maybe. Or was it as a result of he has since been steeped within the relentless positivity of Silicon Valley, the place it’s verboten to think about a foul end result? Likely. Could it’s that whereas the aim was to “connect people,” he by no means anticipated that the platform additionally needed to be chargeable for these folks after they misbehaved? Oh, sure. And, lastly, was it that the all-numbers-go-up-and-to-the-right mentality of Facebook blinded him to the shortcuts that get taken within the service of development? Most positively.

These points have been all nonetheless on full show in a podcast interview I did with Mr. Zuckerberg a number of weeks in the past. You’d have imagined that every one this time, and all the cash and energy he has collected, would have wisened him.

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