The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture: ‘The Social Network’ And The Legacy Of Social Media In Modern Life

Houston Matters examines the history of social media through the lens of David Fincher’s Facebook biopic.

Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network

Can you imagine going through a period of extended social distancing without being connected to friends and family via the Internet? It’s difficult to imagine daily life — let alone a global pandemic — without the ubiquitous presence of social media.

In the early- to mid-2000s you might remember sites like Friendster and MySpace where you could connect with your friends online. But it was ultimately Facebook that significantly expanded the social media landscape, especially when it became open to the public in 2006 — the same year that Twitter was founded.

But before that, Facebook originated as a college-exclusive social media site started by Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard, and that story is the focus of David Fincher’s 2010 film The Social Network, with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and based on a book by Ben Mezrich.

On this edition of The Bigger Picture, where Houston Matters delves into social and cultural issues that show up in cinema, producer Joshua Zinn talks about the decade-old biopic with Charles Dove, director of the Rice Film Program.

Then, Lucas Logan, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Houston-Downtown, talks about the history and legacy of social media and the good and ill that can come from it in a time a crisis.

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