The day has finally come to say goodbye to our dear friend, the little yellow running man. On Friday, Dec. 15, AOL officially shut down AIM. In remembrance of this iconic era era, Twitter is bursting with tweets about old AIM screen names. Thank goodness, TBH, because I need some laughs to help me get through this.
On Oct. 6, AOL announced that it would be shutting down the messaging service after 20 years, saying, "AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed." It couldn't be more true; so many of the apps we use day to day have internal messaging capabilities, because AIM made direct messaging a part of our lives. Nothing would have gone down in the DM if it hadn't first gone down in the AIM. OMG, I'm crying.
Unfortunately, because this form of communication became so ingrained in our lives, "instant messaging" has become virtually obsolete, replaced by in-app messaging and other services like iMessage, WhatsApp, and WeChat. Initial news of the shutdown prompted a flurry of sad tweets, and internet users have been dreading the day the service would finally end for good. Now, that day is here, and along with mourning the service itself, the internet is also mourning the deaths of their old screen names.
Even though most of us probably hadn't thought much about AIM until we found out it would be leaving us, it's always interesting (and sometimes a little sad) to see how much technology has changed throughout our lives. In a press release, AOL noted the impact that the service even had on some of our favorite '90s pop culture. AIM was a crucial part of the relationships seen in You've Got Mail and Sex and the City.
I hopped on the AIM train a bit later than my peers. When I first told my mom about it, she wouldn't let me download it onto our family computer. Heartbroken, I settled for the web version, which at the time didn't have profile capabilities. My family also rarely left our computer on, so I didn't really get to use away messages. A travesty.
But the lucky ones who did get to craft away messages remember trying to figure out the most elusive away message to put up, in hopes of leaving friends or crushes wondering what they were up to. Hmmm, "<3 Leave it," sounds good, but should I add an extra "T" and a period?
AIM profiles also served as a very basic intro to graphic design — at least until MySpace came along and we started learning HTML.
AOL stated, "We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world," so I'm stoked to see what they roll out in the years to come. With Facebook and Instagram creating separate messaging apps for users, perhaps we could see a new iteration of AIM somewhere down the line — or maybe even a whole new social networking platform.
The messaging service isn't the only childhood fave to to bid us farewell this year. On July 24, Microsoft announced that it would be discontinuing Paint. Paint was another intro to graphic design for kids, teens, and adults in the '90s, only with actual art capabilities. Fans of the program were heartbroken when Microsoft announced its end. So heartbroken, in fact, that the company released a statement clearing up the fate of the beloved service. Instead of the program disappearing forever, it is now available in the Windows Store, for free.
Sigh. If only the same could be said for AIM. </3
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