It’s the end of an era. An era that truthfully I didn’t realize was still going on until last week, but still the end of an era. AOL Instant Messenger, affectionately, AIM, will be shutting down on December 15, 2017.
The articles I read about AIM’s final days kindly reminded me that I am getting real old by focusing on the fact that it has been around for 20 years. So quick math on this, I was 12 when AIM started, and probably 12 years and 4 days when I stopped trying to talk to people in real life.
You’ve Got Mail
I sometimes wonder if I would have had more successful romantic relationships in my youth if AIM hadn’t been around to help create the illusion of romantic relationships. It was perfectly designed to let you hide all your insecurities and emotions AND dissect your word choice until it was perfectly smart, witty, and just a touch flirtatious.
Teenage me on AIM was a delight. Teenage me in real life wore headbands like this and spent Saturday nights listening to Kenny G.
But my unrequited love for people I never actually spoke to built character. And it made for some really great AIM away messages. I don’t think I let a week go by in high school without putting up an AIM away message quoting Goo Goo Dolls. Or REO Speedwagon. I really just wanted you to know who I was. And I couldn’t fight this feeling anymore. I’d forgotten what I’d started fighting for.
My imaginary love stories got slightly more real in college, but only slightly. Still the vast majority of my conversations with significant others were AIM based and involved a lot of kiss face emojis before emojis were really a thing.
Me: Hey, what’s up? 🙂
Boy: Nothing. You?
Me: Just chillin.
Boy: Cool. Well, I g2g. Hitting the gym. Love ya.
Me: Love ya. Kiss Face Smiley
It’s a real wonder that none of those relationships worked out.
AIM was more successful on the friendship front though because it was a very convenient way to gather friends to go get some dinner. And if your friends didn’t know that you were eating lunch at the Eagle’s Nest Dining Hall then how could you possibly get together to discuss
the Anything But Clothes Party beer runs what the hell Susie was thinking last night your hopes and dreams.
Class, Gym, Clipping My Toenails
As I reflect on my AIM memories, perhaps the most baffling is how specific my away messages got when I wasn’t quoting singer songwriters. Like “let’s make this super easy for potential stalkers” specific. Class schedule, gym schedule, shower schedule… No one needed to know that.
But I wasn’t the only one documenting my every move via away message so it didn’t feel weird. I remember honestly having a conversation with a friend back in college wondering if AIM would still be a thing when we got married and had kids.
It’s my wedding day! God must have spent a little more time on him! Kiss Face. Be back around 2am.
BRB, going into labor!
A Nostalgic Farewell
While I haven’t spent a lick of time using the Beca1116 screename in many many moons, it still does feel a little weird that this chapter of my youth is officially closing. For as much I can poke fun at myself for how utterly ridiculous I was using this platform, it may have actually made me a better writer. And for as non existent as my high school and college internet based relationships were, I ended up meeting my husband online. Sometimes we even talk in person now and it’s great!
So AOL Instant Messenger, thank you for the memories. May you rest in sweet peace. And remember, it’s not goodbye, it’s TTYL.
With TMI, ILYs and LOLs,
And for more 90s nostalgia, check out the ATT Nostalgia Effect!