A Flashback To The Golden Era Of AOL AIM


Sep 2, 2015


Swagger NYC

For 20 and 30-somethings,  American Online makes us all warm and fuzzy for the golden era of AOL AIM. Back when no one used real @ names (or @ for that matter), we sat hunched over our computer screens speaking via random but well-thought-out screen names; mine was Pretty7751, inspired by greatest film of all time, Pretty Woman. And I typed only in hot pink Comic Sans font. Our editor, Sian-Pierre's screen name was AFPolo92, a mashup of kewl kid fashion staples, Abercrombie and Fitch and Polo (I know, gross).

In many cases, AIM was the internet's first social network. It was where we let #TheSquad know where we were and what we were doing; it was also where our profile let everyone else know what we were all about. There wasn't any pressure to become an "influencer" or nail a hashtag, there were no "likes" or Top 8s.

We were free to fill up the 1024 character limit boxes with squiggly multi-tone fonts and long Away messages, typically personal anecdotes on teen life (JUST KIDDING, MOSTLY *NSYNC LYRICS), middle finger ASCII images and black backgrounds with striking red text. Did anyone else have that one asshole friend who messaged in black font/black background?

I lived for my Buddy List because it was so meticulously categorized. Friends and family never shared the same group, neither did classmates who I only hit up for answers to homework and popular kids I AIM stalked – side note: AIM stalking > Instagram stalking. The sound of the AIM door slamming shut and opening and avatars could all be customized for your #Squad.

And the chatrooms! DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE CHATROOMS! Remember seething with jealousy when you discovered that all of your friends were busy in a "private chat" AND YOU WERE NOT INVITED? That #FOMO struggle was so real, but if you were really offended, you could just raise your friend's warning percentage to 100 and get them blocked from signing back in. MUHAHAHA. Victory.

AIM has laid dormant for years thanks to phone texting, Whats App, Instagram, Twitter, and obviously Facebook chat – but let's #neverforget the good 'ol days. Now, go ask someone A/S/L just for shits and giggles.