Admittedly, when juxtaposed against the assemblage of 934-year-old white men who make up the Senate, Mark Zuckerberg’s relative youth is conspicuous, as it would also be if he were in a room with a troop of vampires, or perhaps the exhumed and propped-up bodies of Genghis Khan and—I don’t know—a fucking velociraptor.
“Wow,” I would say if I were in that room with the long-dead Khan and a raptor carcass and Zuckerberg all seated on a futon. “Mark really looks young compared to this man who’s been dead for a thousand years and this animal that has been extinct for 10 million. He must have a consistent skin regimen.” And then, curious about how he remains so youthful compared with things that are no longer alive, I might even ask him if he exfoliates.
Unfortunately, I have not met Zuckerberg, so I have not been in a room with him and a velociraptor. When I’m in areas with Wi-Fi, however, I have access to the internet, and this allows me to visit websites that will tell me what Zuckerberg looks like and when he was born. And by gathering that info, I’ve come to the conclusion that he qualifies for what many of us refer to as “adulthood.” He is, to quote Cedric the Entertainer, a grown-ass man.
He is also one of the richest and most influential men on earth: the founder of a company worth billions and essential to the lives of billions of people. He’s such an iconic cultural figure that a whole entire movie was made about him eight years ago. Like all other adults (sans Morgan Freeman and Martha Stewart), there was a point in his life when he was a kid. A boy. That time is no longer here. But apparently, some of us don’t agree.
There’s “Boy Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg Struggles to Play the Grown-Up” from the Washington Post, with lines that make it sound like this grown-ass fucking man is Curious George:
The boy billionaire needed some added stature.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg replaced his usual gray T-shirt with a blue suit for his big day before Congress, a sartorial upgrade that evoked class-photo day at school.
The slight 33-year-old, led into the cavernous Senate hearing room by a phalanx of aides, appeared momentarily confused about where to sit, until aides beckoned toward the witness table. Awaiting him on the leather chair: a four-inch-thick black foam cushion.
There’s “Mark Zuckerberg’s Growing Up Moment”—a CNN piece that reminds us that he’s only had one job his entire life, which is such an odd thing to say, as if founding and running Facebook is like manning a lemonade stand. The New York Times even got in on the fun, devoting hundreds of words to Zuckerberg’s decision to be a big boy and wear a suit.
Of course, this need to infantilize this GROWN-ASS FUCKING MAN is a reflection of America’s tendency to treat white people (white men, particularly) like babies from birth to cremation, while we (black people) are apparently born 27 years old with a lit Newport already between our lips. It’s how 33-year-old white men with all the influence and status and privilege in the world remain “boys” while 12-year-old black boys are treated like men.
Granted, Zuckerberg is young in comparison with most other people with his level of power and fame. That is a fact. But he is not a child. He is not a teen. And he hasn’t been either of those things for as long as we’ve known who he is. He has, however, been white and male. So I guess his actual age doesn’t really matter.