I am speaking, of course, of my old AOL Instant Messenger handle.
I went back to visit them because of the recent announcement that AIM is on its last legs. I can’t even remember my password, but I’m experiencing some serious nostalgia at the idea of AIM going the way of
Some guy you almost bought a shovel from on Craigslist?
checking your buddy list to see if your crush signed in.
“Teens used the service to flirt through text, engaging in a form of written flirtation that looked a lot more like letter-writing practices decades before,” says Danah Boyd, author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.” That written flirtation allowed young women to construct their identities as carefully as their away messages. But online, my friends and I who fashioned ourselves as budding intellectuals who didn’t need to always talk like characters in a Woody Allen movie.
We planned Halloween costumes and epic homecoming sleepovers.
Marla M12 was instant-messaging me a guide to phone sex: “Practice saying things like, ‘You make me so hot’ …
the basics can be extraordinarily arousing when they’re said out of context or in a different situation.” For women like me who were teens and preteens in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that “different situation” was AIM (AOL Instant Messenger).
(Probably should've been doing my calculus homework instead? The New York Times reported earlier this week that AOL had eviscerated its instant-messaging unit, laying off all of its developers, leaving behind only support staff. Most of today’s popular chat programs—Facebook Messenger and Google Chat—are seamlessly integrated into bigger and more useful services. For people my age, this was the single program that introduced us to the experience of having intensely personal conversations online, of commiserating with a friend via the glow of a computer screen at 2 a.m., of trying to woo someone with text rather than, you know, oneself. I’d sit at my keyboard or look over a friend’s shoulder while we made stupid jokes in the Kid’s Zone or whatever it was called, trying to convince “girls” (i.e., men in windowless vans) to join us in a private IM chat session.The company is claiming that the 15-year-old chat service isn’t going anywhere, but the tech blogs know better. My earliest online-chat experiences were in elementary school, in the O. We were too young for anything untoward to happen at that point, but there was a powerful thrill to the idea that, at the end of the other line, there was a Girl We Didn’t Know.Right now you might be reminiscing about how you had to compete for time on the home computer in order to chat with friends outside of school.You might also remember how characters throughout pop culture from You've Got Mail to Sex and the City used AIM to help navigate their relationships.