Well, it’s the end of an era. Our childhood is dying and we are all dinosaurs.
Last week, the folks at AOL announced that its trailblazing program, Instant Messenger, would be shutting down for good in December.
Like many millennials, I haven’t used AIM in years, but it was such an integral part to our lives when the internet was just becoming a thing in the late 90s/early 2000s. Before Snapchat, Instagram, GChat, Twitter, Facebook, and kinda before texting, there was AIM. It was social networking before we knew what social networking was. We’d spend all day at school with friends, only to go home and turn on AIM to talk to friends some more. We’d perfect our AIM profiles with the right quotes and shoutout to friends using their initials – it was a precursor to perfect a Facebook profile. It’s where we first learned how to abbrev – “brb”, “a/s/l?”, “nm, u?” etc. AIM let us make our first internet identities with vague SNs (screennames duh) that gave others a hint of our interests and/or hobbies (one of my first ones had “BSB” in it). We’d sneakily put our crush’s SNs on our buddy lists and get giddy when we heard the sound of the door opening and their name flash up on our ~*u kNo wHo*~ buddy list (1/1). If we were super bored, we’d open a new window for Smarter Child and see what they were up to. We’d put up elaborate away messages with way more info than we ever should’ve given out. Or if you’re like me, you’d just keep an away message on 24/7 even though you’re sitting in front of your computer and not, in fact, away.
Because I’m a hoarder of sorts – I like memories, OK – I was one of those people who installed a secondary program which automatically logged conversations with my friends. My archive only goes back to like, 2004 right before I started college, but boy oh boy did I find some gems. Re-reading all these got me thinking – why? Just why? But also, making an away message was like a first generation Facebook status update (IE: “Traci is… really upset that her VCR decided not to tape the last 5 minutes of the American Idol finale.”) It told a story about your mood, what you were doing, where you were doing it, who you were do it with, who you were thinking about while doing the thing – it gave a lot of details away – information superhighway, amirite?? After going through my archives, I noticed a few trends that made AIM the iconic fly trapped in amber that it is. Here are some of my favorite/questionable away messages, not only of my own, but also of some of my friends. Don’t worry, your identities are protected. To reiterate, these are REAL.
Various Ways to “Hit the Cell”
Following the popularity of AIM, cell phones became more and more common, specifically for use of the texting feature, which was basically like a portable version of AIM. So when you couldn’t sit and have a conversation with your friend because you’re in class, hit them on their Motorola Razor and you’d get in touch instantly. But what we needed to put at the end of the away message was the prompt. And as for me, I know I wanted variety. I can’t say, “leave love or hit the cell” all the time. Which is why some popular variations of this included, “cells good”, “hit the digits”, “make it vibrate” “make it ring”, “cell’s avail”, just in case you were confused that my phone WASN’T available. These days I don’t want anyone to contact me at all.
Deep Song Lyrics
“Deep” is a relative term. Here I am using lyrics from underrated Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin'”, which in my defense, was like our high school group’s theme song.
Ashlee Simpson? Yeah I guess I can’t really defend that.
I was a theater nerd. I went to a college with other theater nerds. This is actually too mainstream theater for school standards.
A Convo Between Friends IRL
First off, I’d like to say I was not offended by this conversation. Second, this was what AIM was really for. Having funny convos with friends and showing it off online to your other friends.
A Convo Between Friends on AIM
And the other half is having “hilarious” convos with friends online and copy and pasting into an away message because that’s cool. This isn’t even that funny. But it was funny to us at the time. A majority of our away messages were inside jokes that 5% of your buddy list would understand. But we did it anyways.
Taking a Shower
Like, why? Why did we do this?
Legitimate Schedule of Events
To continue from the shower bit, why? It was certainly a different time in terms of people being able to easily find your information and cyberstalk you, but we got so specific with our schedules. This was my friend’s day as an acting major.
this is my friend/co-worker who specifically asked his friends to call him, because, yes, that’s right, he has a life.
Meanwhile, I also gave a breakdown of the imporatant events in my day – a nightly TV schedule. And the last line isn’t a shout out to my homestate. It’s literally the VH1 reality TV program “I Love New York” featuring Tiffany “New York” Pollard.
Some Kind of Countdown
The away message not only told people when you were away and what you were doing when you were away, but it told a story of your future. Another popular trend was a countdown to whatever event you were looking forward to. “6 Days Until Spring Break!”, “1 More Day Until DF, TW, & SP ARRIVE!”, and “T-Minus 4 days until Project Turkey”, which was a thing I used freshman years of college for a v embarrassing thing.
Elaborate Text Art
I was such a sucker for these. It took creativity and skill to make an elaborate away message, even if it was just a few words (that could’ve been shortened to BRB).
Remember wingdings?! Or was this a webding? I could never tell the difference.
Farewell AIM, we’ll miss you. Put up a good away message for us before you go, ok?