Just over ten years since we switched over into the new millennium and the landscape of our technology use is something quite different from the space age envisioned by the inhabitants of the 1950s.  Software has affected our lives in much bigger ways than hardware. Apps, social media sites, Skype. These things have changed how we relate to each other, not just how we communicate with each other and with it a whole new set of social rules to deal with our online reality.

2010 gave us two tales about Facebook. David Fincher’s (of Se7en and Fight Club fame) blockbuster The Social Network and the lesser-known and shown Catfish, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.

The Social Network is based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires about the ignoble nascence of that indestructible factor that now makes up the fabric of life – Facebook. It takes us all the way back to 2003 when angry geek Mark Zuckerbeg was a second year student at Harvard. Spurned by the girl he was dating (played by Girl With A Dragon Tattoo star, Rooney Mara), he comes up with the cruel concept of Facemash, a website that allows other angry geeks to rate the girls in their college.

The movie goes on to tell how Facebook came to be via law suits, weed-fuelled frat parties, bimbos and gratuitous flashing of cash by Napster dude Sean Parker – played surprisingly very well by Justin Timberlake.  The movie is an enjoyable watch, made all the more so by my prejudice about its merits prior to watching it (closed-minded? A bit). It is thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay that the film, actors and story sparkle so. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Z is great as Angry Geek #1 and the British Andrew Garfield makes a worthy Eduardo Saverin, the best friend-turned-lawsuit filer.

Catfish is a different kettle of fish. Nev Schulman’s brother Ariel began filming him when he started a Facebook romance with a hottie he had never met before. What started out as a video log blossomed into something unsettling but also beautiful. The brothers and their friend Joost decided to turn virtual reality into actuall reality by paying said hottie, Megan, a visit in Michigan before heading back East to New York after a job they had out West.

Bit by bit they unravel the fabrication built up over the previous nine months, but continue to “Megan”’s house anyway. This true to life drama is riveting from the start, progresses in a way quite different to anything you may be expecting and is all the more potent for how much of it one can relate to. We all use Facebook or other forms of cyber virtual reality. We all superimpose our own fantasies onto the online figments of people, whether we have met them or not.

Non-disclosure with who we are online has the potential to be pernicious. But a lot of the time it stems from the most basic desire to connect with others and be loved. Catfish is engrossing and emotional and will probably make you sniffle a little.

The Social Network and Catfish are diametric opposites. The first has a big budget, big stars and a crafted screenplay. It is the story of the guys on top of the digital food chain, the creators. It makes you despise our dependence on these gadgets and gizmos and the fat cat wankers who seem to have so much control over society.

Catfish is real life, unscripted and of negligible financing. It is the story about the users – two out of millions and millions. Middle America, average Joe. We aren’t left hating and resenting our use of technology; in fact it reassures us that it’s not a crime to not want to feel lonely and to use Facebook to get there.