Mark Zuckerberg is living several dreams at once. He’s living the dream in which he earned billions of dollars by creating a social media platform that people actively hate. He’s living the dream in which Lex Luthor got to play him in the film of his life. And now he’s living the dream in which he gets to wander around a vast uninhabited space all alone, like Will Smith in I Am Legend.
Over the past couple of years, Zuckerberg has made two big property purchases – last year he bought 750 acres of land on the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii for $100m, and in 2013 he bought the four properties surrounding his Palo Alto home – that seem to underline his rampant desire for privacy. Recently revealed plans indicating that Zuckerberg does not intend to build an entire compound on his land, but rather a single property, suggest that he is determined to surround himself with, well, almost no one (with the exception, presumably, of his wife, Priscilla Chan).
At first glance these might seem like the actions of a man with something to hide; the hypocritical manoeuvrings of a man who made his fortune on social media and now wants to be as antisocial as possible. It’s as if he’s become a Daniel Plainview figure, so isolated by his success that he wants to move far away from everyone and shoot at his furniture with a rifle.
Admittedly, this might just be Zuckerberg following his peers, because if there’s one thing that tech billionaires apparently love doing, it’s planting flags in all the land around them. In 2013, Elon Musk bought a mansion opposite his own mansion, and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer snapped up a funeral home just down from her home. But there’s a chance that something else might be at play. Mark Zuckerberg might just be sick of people.
And really, could you blame him? This is the man who created Facebook, remember. When Zuckerberg looks down at the fruits of his creation, what does he see? The very worst of humanity, that’s what. Narcissists. Drunks. Racists. Joke stealers. Complainers. People who wouldn’t know the difference between “their” and “there” if you wrote it on a cricket bat and attacked them with it. If you spent your day endlessly scrolling through 1.3 billion soul-deadening hen party photo uploads and infinite multilingual variations of “U OK hun?”, you’d want to run as far away from people as you could too.
Sequestering himself from the monsters who use his site seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do. In fact, it’s odd that more people haven’t done the same. By rights, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Instagram, should have moved away to a bricked-up cave by now. Jack Dorsey and the rest of his Twitter co-founders should have bought an entire desert, and dedicated the rest of their life to scratching “I’M SORRY” in giant letters in the sand with a toothbrush. So let Mark Zuckerberg hide away from everyone. You’d do the same if you had the money.
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