The Romans and Social Media

Cicero’s Web: How Social Media Was Born in Ancient Rome

Just a quick note on this article I stumbled over today, positing that social media is just one link in a chain going back at least 2000 years. It’s got me interested in the book, for sure, and it’s gotten me thinking about the transmission of knowledge in classical times (and, for Aven‘s purposes, what changes when you have magical means of sending messages as well as mundane channels). I particularly enjoy the implication that social media is a natural correction of the effects of the corporatization of media (an argument I’ve also seen regarding fanfic).

What I think goes one step further is that isn’t just the distribution of information that goes back so far — it’s the need to comment on what everyone else is saying and doing. Roman poets were famous for this, for everything from incisive political commentary that could end in banishment to the Black Sea to exposing the dastardly doings of dinnertime napkin-thieves. They also chattered about the sex lives of the rich and famous with a perverse enthusiasm and dogged persistence that would be admired by any modern tabloid.

Truly, the act of getting up in everyone’s business is an ancient one.

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