Tomorrow marks the end of an era that few of us saw coming...the end of AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). America Online (AOL) which has since been absorbed by Verizon's conglomerate, has noticed that AIM has been a ghost town for nearly ten years, thanks to the chats built into Facebook and the ability to chat with international friends via WhatsApp and Skype. Since the activity has been sparse, it obviously doesn't make sense to keep the product running. For those who remember the time of AIM, it's how many of us were introduced to the internet.
Wired did a really awesome piece on AIM that you can read by CLICKING HERE.
My AIM chat logs definitely serve as a diary for me as a teenager -- without cellphones for texting and in the absence of social media, AIM was the only way for us to communicate without the use of a landline telephone. In college, it was even MORE important as AIM was a way to tell when your classmates were back in their dorm rooms and done with class for the day. And if you were sad, lonely, or just too lazy to make friends or everyone on your Buddy List was away, you could always chat with AIM's automated personality -- she was pre-Siri or Alexa.
AIM led most Millennials into the 21st Century and laid the groundwork for online etiquette. If you were a Wall Street executive or a middle schooler, you were on AIM in some way because it was the best messaging app in an age that was pre-smartphone texting.
For many of us, we learned what "lol" means via AIM, as well as, "rotfl", "AFK", "BRB", etc.
I can't help but reminisce of all my relationships (friendships and romances) that started (and sometimes ended) via a chat window like the one below. How no matter what computer I logged into anywhere in the world, the first thing I looked for was the running yellow man, and I could load my Buddy List. If someone was sketchy or harassing me, I could always block them and they'd never see me online again. How AIM was an easy way to open up to someone you liked or a way to air grievances without tears or shouting. It was the first groupchat, and not the last time we would find that concept annoying.
AIM was the epitome of my young adult years. Now it will be gone forever.
I guess the lesson here is that technology is an ever-changing river. But it is so nice for us to look back on where we've come from, and we'll be amazed at all the technologies that will eventually be chalked up to "passing scenery."
Farewell, AIM. To myself, and millions of other Millennials, you truly WERE the internet.
Greetings, GradMoney Readers!
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