It was humanity’s first taste of mass communications, and immediately triggered the same concerns about information overload, frivolous communications, loss of privacy, and moral corruption that today we blame on the internet.
How will its uses add to the happiness of mankind? Has the land telegraph done any good? Has it banished any evil, mitigated any sorrow? Is it of any consequence that you of New York should know on Tuesday, rather than on Wednesday, that Jones smashed the nose of Thompson in Congress on Monday? Upon the whole, is any more money gained or lost by the cotton speculators of New York and New Orleans, because they know the variations of both markets five minutes, rather than five days, before their operations take effect?