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Dear Benjamin Franklin,

How would you compare 21st century social media to the news industry of the 18th century?


Andrew Mayne

Dear Andrew,

They are both forms of media that seek to promote content that will interest their audience. In both instances they offer people a chance to become part of something bigger than themselves. To be part of a community. A community with shared interests. This is not unlike other forms of media. Literature for example.

And like the publishing industry, in social media, it is hard to discover the value of some content. A screed against George Washington one day, followed by a raving endorsement of him the next, are both from the same source. Is the author rational? Is the content fact-based? A thoughtful post is only a click away from the ravings of someone who has watched too much television, but in both cases it takes time to discover the difference.

And both in media and social media, those who are shouting are often the ones who get heard.


Benjamin Franklin