Trent Reznor: Zuckerberg no genius like Jobs

In discussing his soundtrack for "The Social Network," musician Trent Reznor says he believes Facebook CEO was merely the right person at the right time with the right tools.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

We all need geniuses to aspire to, just as we need fools to decry.

Yet we each have our own criteria as to who might climb our personal genius pedestal and who might merely wipe it for hallowed feet to have a clean surface.

Trent Reznor, once of Nine Inch Nails and now co-composer of the score to "The Social Network," is clear about Apple CEO Steve Jobs being a genius and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg being a wiper.

"When I see the media heralding Zuckerberg, putting him up on a pedestal of genius and mentioned in the same breathe [sic] as Steve Jobs, I'm highly degree with that," Reznor said in an interview with Drowned In Sound.

Perhaps you're not entirely familiar with the "highly degree" terminology. Does this mean Reznor considers them both more exalted that even Ph.D. level? Not quite.

Mark Zuckerberg
Not a genius? Not yet? Not ever? Josh Lowensohn/CNET

For Reznor reportedly continued: "He was in the right place, at the right time, with a functional tool. I think if something came along doing what Facebook does and was just a lot better at it, then, well, most people use Facebook because everyone's on Facebook but then you see how quickly Friendster and MySpace crashed."

Some might wonder whether Reznor was being a little harsh, not recognizing how Zuckerberg very cleverly avoided the mistakes made by others who tried to bring the whole world together to share in and of themselves.

Well, if you think that's harsh, Reznor leaves no opinion unturned as to what he feels about Facebook the product: "As far as the concept goes, I don't think it's actually executed that well. The layout's kind of foolish and the processing is terrible, as a tool."

Naturally, those on the Facebook-is-genius side of life might offer, in a spurt of defensiveness, that at least with Facebook you can catch everything that is being said. But time will have its own impact on whether Facebook's CEO might enjoy adulation as broad as that rightly given to Jobs.

However, Reznor isn't merely all that fond of Facebook as a concept. He seems truly distraught at the sort of human behavior that it has engendered.

"In the age of over-sharing and hyper-real versions of people presenting and representing themselves on the web, that if as many people really listened to Joy Division as list them on their Facebook page, Joy Division would be bigger than U2," he said.

While one wouldn't necessarily "be degree" with that assessment, isn't it also fair to wonder where the idea of a hyper-real version of oneself might have emerged for so many of the world's impressionable humans.

Surely it came from rock stars. We all want to be like them. Even Steve Jobs wishes he was Bob Dylan. Rock stars get more sex, more adulation, more suggestions that they are, indeed, geniuses. We're all just trying to be like Bono. Or, failing that, Trent Reznor.