Just like how you will never forget your first love, you will never forget your first AOL Instant Messenger screen name. For many millennials, AOL Instant Messenger is attached to a certain point from their adolescence that they will never forget. It was the first place where people learned to talk to their crushes, learned who their true friends were, and learned that saving chats (so you can have receipts) is so important. But on Friday, AOL announced that it would shut down Instant Messenger after 20 years. People were disappointed, to say the least and these AIM memes and jokes show that people will be in mourning of the teenage staple for a while, even if they were 13 years old the last time they used it.
The service will shut down on Dec. 15, according to CNN, after 20 years of people using it to chat online. At the time of its launch in 1997, the world was a completely different place than it is now. I mean, people had to use dial up to get on the internet.
The teens of today, who grew up texting their crushes and sliding into their DMs will never understand the anxiety of the tones associated with AOL Instant Messenger. They will never understand the importance of putting your friend's initials in your buddy profile, or the science behind crafting the most perfect away message, using My Chemical Romance song lyrics to capture all of the angst of a certain moment.
There is a lot worth grieving with the death of AIM. It's like having someone knock down your childhood home — you don't live there any more and wouldn't dare go inside but it represents a part of your life you don't want to see go away. These memes and tweets, posted to Twitter, perfectly capture that feeling and more.
The thing that makes these tweets so funny is the fact that every one of them is relatable. These were shared experiences that every teen had, regardless of where you lived. Whereas today, teens are concerned about how many followers they have on their social media sites, it was different back then. No one was concerned with how many friends you had on your buddy list. Instead, we were all just worried about talking to our friends, even if we had just seen them an hour before at school. It was universal in that way, which is why these jokes are so funny.
But those *bloops* and *beeps* from receiving a new chat, along with the sound of a door opening are almost triggering to me. As sad as it is to see this teen staple go away, it was the first place where a lot of people, like myself, had their first experience with cyberbullying. When people were able to hide behind a screen name and their parent's dialup, they suddenly became a lot more ruthless. It was a lot harder to figure out who was behind the instant messaging usernames back then (because resources were less abundant) than it is to catch an online "catfish" now. People can not forget that kind of hurt that it caused.
All seriousness aside, everyone has the right to make fun of and meme the death of AIM. And in spite of the hurt that AIM might have caused for some, it brings back memories of the time in life when Justin Timberlake ruled the radio waves and Donald Trump wasn't president. It represents a time before people started summing up their thoughts in 140 characters and taking photos that would disappear 10 seconds later. Things were much simpler back then.
Rest in peace, AIM, the messenger service that is 2good2b4gotten.