Good news, bad news, silly news: you can find it all online these days. Social media sites like Facebook give people the opportunity to show pictures of their latest island vacation, tell about their appendectomy, or just share a joke with friends. What did we ever do before Facebook?
Read the newspaper. Very early American city newspapers had social columns, where correspondents from smaller communities could report on the latest parties or crop successes. The weight of a baby, the gifts received by bride and groom, even the details of deaths were shared.
Wrote round-robins. When a stamp cost a penny or two, people wrote letters, and some used the system of a "round-robin." The first writer would share his news and send it to the next person, who would add what was happening in her life and send it on to another one. In this way, a larger group could be informed of all the news. At the end of the line, the last person sent it back to the first, and the communicating started all over again.
Talked over coffee. Homemakers (primarily women) could feel isolated, so many started Coffee Klatches to share news and refreshments. At the office, workers gathered around the water cooler or in the break room to tell what was happening at home or during business hours.
Listened on the phone. Beginning in 1878, subscribers to telephone service could save money by sharing a line with other households. (During the world wars, all lines were "party lines.") By listening on their home phone, people could eavesdrop on other conversations and learn things they might not otherwise know.
Internet, email, cell phones, smart phones, Twitter. People communicate in new and amazing ways in each generation. Times and technology change, but the news still gets around.
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