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Anyone who texts recognizes "LOL," "2G2BT," and "PRW" as shorthand for "laughing out loud," "too good to be true," and "parents are watching." But did you know that in the 1800s—when your great-great-great-grandparents were alive—telegraph operators used similar abbreviations in telegrams? For example, "GM," "SFD," and "GA" meant "good morning," "stop for dinner," and "go ahead." At the time, telegrams were a new and superfast way for people to network with others.
Social networking isn't a new idea. People have been connecting in different versions of circles and lists and groups for centuries. The broad range of social media includes wampum belts, printed broadsides (early newspapers), ring shouts (secret slave gatherings with singing and dancing), calling cards, telegrams, and telephones. The invention of the Internet—and e-mail, text messaging, and social utilities such as Facebook and Google+—is just the latest way in which humans network for fun, work, romance, spiritual bonding, and many other reasons.
Friend Me! takes readers through the amazing history of social networking in the United States, from early Native American councils to California's Allen Telescope Array (ATA), where researchers are hoping to interact with extraterrestrial beings. Learn how Americans have been connecting in imaginative ways throughout history, and you'll see social networking in a whole new light.