>Early this morning, I watched, “The Social Network.” Beside being a great movie, the dialogue, to those really paying attention, offers viewers some clues as to why striving to achieve more is imperative. For those that have seen the movie, remember near the beginning, when Mark Z. is talking with his girlfriend about the number of “highly intelligent people in China?” Mark says something to the effect, “Did you know that China has more highly intelligent people than we [U.S.] have people doing anything else?”
While that may be a slight exaggeration – though, probably not, they simply have more people after all – there is a degree of truth in that statement.
CNNMoney, in July 2010, ran an editorial by Jeff Colvin, warning about the lack of emphasis on learning and education in the United States, versus China. I would also add to that India, too.
According to Colvin, in 2009 China graduated 10,000 Engineering Ph.Ds. The United State graduated about 8,000 Engineering Ph.Ds. Not bad, you say? Two-thirds of our 8,000 (5,300) were not U.S. citizens thereby taking that new-found knowledge back to their home countries. U.S. immigration policy actually encourages smart, non-native people to leave.
Furthermore, while American enrollment in the sciences is falling, the fastest growing majors are “Park & Recreation,” “Leisure,” and “Fitness.” Not there is anything inherently wrong with any of those pursuits, and, hopefully, you can see where I am going with this. Americans are not actively pursuing hard sciences, those sciences that are required and necessary for a healthy and robust economy that helps provide our standard-of-living. Then, those people that actually are pursuing hard science degrees are leaving the United States to go work elsewhere. Some do manage to engage the bureaucracy long enough to enter into the United States.
From “The Social Network,” we can also examine the characters of the Winklevoss Brothers. Did they have their idea stolen from Mark Z.? Something happened because in court, the brothers received $65,000,000 as a settlement. Scrutinize the attitudes of the Winklevoss Brothers, though. They were advised to move on, invent something else, develop a new idea – that is what Harvard is about, as stated by the Harvard President. They didn’t. They wanted to play the victim. Sure, they got $65,000,000, but they contributed nothing. In my mind, they should have gotten $1. One dollar is typically the damages given to simply say, yes, I agree, Mark Z. lied to, misrepresented himself, but you contributed no money, no brain effort, and your idea versus his idea are simply to far apart for me to consider that he stole it.
In China and India, Education is literally the difference between Life and Death. When I hear students poking fun of Chinese students studying in the library, or International students in the library, those American students do not understand that those Chinese or Korean or whoever, will one day – to speak metaphorically – be growing our lunch, designing our lunch, building our lunch, eating our lunch, and then telling us how great our lunch tasted. In the meantime, American students rank their education somewhere between binge drinking and XBox/Wii/Lady Gaga.
Then, Americans, playing the role of the Winklevoss Brothers, will whine and complain about how they feel robbed, somehow oblivious to the fact that they had it within their power to do something different, to change, to brainstorm, to invent, to imagine.
Now, to say that Mark Z. stabbed his only friend, Eduardo Saverin, in the back is like saying Abraham Lincoln died of lead poisoning. People can act in ethical and moral ways. For some reason we can only guess at, Mark Z. trashed his friendship with Eduardo. I can only say that this points towards Mark Z.’s youth and immaturity.
In closing, I’m using “The Social Network” as a parable for our U.S. society and our approach to Education. That is my intent, anyway. Your education is your way of investing in your future. Do not invest in attitudes such as those exhibited by the Winklevoss Brothers (Epic Fail), and being vindictive, vengeful, ruthless, or whatever Mark Z. exhibited is not necessary, either.