AOL is shutting down its instant messaging service, AIM, after a two-decade run.
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.
“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.
AIM created “a safe space,” genderqueer writer and performer RE Katz tells me. mostly faking, some experimenting, performance.” That performance — complete with the costume of a font and the character of a username — was an attempt at being clever or sexy, at crafting a self. : The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails” and the Twitter account @Your Away Message.
Katz credits AIM as helping shape their own gender expression today. The technology was new, but it wasn’t that different from what adolescents have been doing for ages. “I think it helped young women feel like they could come into their own in a lot of ways,” Moss says. In class, I was the person with the right answer — or the person constantly competing with the other smart kid who said it first.
You could gossip or flirt or make plans to see a movie. When I think about AIM, most of my memories have to do with early-adolescent growing pains, with exclusion and belonging. AND DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES MESS WITH JADE’S MOM’S WASHING MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!
In middle school, when I didn’t have a lot of friends, I was tempted to create fake friends with fake initials and reference the crazy nights we’d never had: “HEY Az K RAR and EL AMB GOC BWP AND JMA AHE BMF GCE and the rest of the TANGERINE CREW!!!! LOL”Later, when I did have friends, we had conversations that are, of course, wincingly embarrassing a decade-plus later.
Senor AB84 ( PM): who invited feinbergmadcat457 ( PM): f--k you dude, he's with me Senor AB84 ( PM): I specifically said no nerds JFSKI15 ( PM): f--k you jerks That was around 2001. (Shockingly, nothing ever happened between her and me.)I can’t be the only one who saved these logs, who realized every time AIM’s friend-signing-off alert played (door closing!