This is an excellent article from 2011 that I recently rediscovered while thinking about the current state of the web and social media.
The article’s thesis is that a helpful lens for understanding media is thinking in terms of questions answered.
Here’s one question: “I’m bored, and I want to get out of the house and have an experience, possibly involving elves or bombs. Where do I go?”
The answer: You could go to a movie.
The web answers the fundamental question “Why wasn’t I consulted?”. This fundamental question leads to the realization that the web is a customer service medium first and foremost.
Sure the high-minded way of saying this is that social media is about “connecting people” but really it’s about satisfying the need for people to be consulted.
YMMV on whether this understanding makes things seem better or worse.