After twenty years of service, AOL’s archaic messenger will be slamming its iconic door for good. On December 15, 2017, America Online – which, apparently, still exists despite no longer spamming your mailbox with free trial CD-ROMs – will discontinue support of the once massively-popular instant messaging system.
Minutes after the news was announced, a flurry of posts erupted on Facebook, with users reminiscing over what the AIM meant to them when they were growing up.
Josh Walter of Cedar City, Utah, wrote an impassioned status update about the loss of the messaging platform. “AIM, which anyone who grew up in the early 2000’s will tell you, defined our generation. This was before the days of smartphones, texting, and Facebook messenger. It was really a time to be alive. In those days, people didn’t even look down on you for using Comic Sans and capitalizing every other letter in a word. I can’t even remember the last time I typed ‘BRB’ to someone. I can just take Facebook Messenger with me to the bathroom. We’re just constantly online. AIM will always remind me of the days when I knew how to disconnect.”
Abbey Page of Boulder, Colorado, agrees. “There was something so thrilling about using AIM. It was a simpler time when the internet was an uncharted, untamed beast that was ours for the taking. It was such a rush! Most of us didn’t have our own computers back in the day. We just used the family E-Machines model that was in the living room. Back in those days, there were only two ways to get in contact with your friends. Over the family landline, which always meant some meddling sibling or parent could be listening, or through AIM.”
Using AOL Instant Messenger to plan parties and get-togethers was always the more popular choice among her friends group, said Page. “You could form a chat group of five, six people and figure it out from there. If a parent came into the room, you’d just exit out of the window and deny everything.”
“We’ve dubbed Facebook’s reaction to this one ‘AIM acclaim,’” said Roy Lee, a psychologist who studies internet nostalgia. “You’ve got a whole generation of people – most of them in their twenties and thirties now – who took for granted that AIM would be around forever, even if they were never going to use it again. It was always at least an option to sign in and see your old saved away messages. Now it’s like nostalgia overload as they try desperately to remember their old passwords and use the platform before it’s gone for good.”
Page says she plans on catching up her best friend from high school for one last chat session on AIM. “I want to hear the door creak open and slam shut again.” She remembers her old username and password like she just logged in yesterday, even though she hasn’t used AIM since 2006. “Caligurllll16. I guess I thought I was being cool or something. I grew up in Wisconsin.”
Walter refused to give us any details about his old account. “I’ll never tell you my username, You’ll have to kill me first.”
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.