The 90s were simpler times. There were JNCO jeans and Bop It; there were Pokémon cards and Smackers lip balm; there were Saturday morning cartoons and jelly sandals. As a child of the 90s, I constantly long for the things that encapsulated my youth. Nothing, however, makes me more nostalgic than AIM.
Going on AOL Instant Messenger was every 90s girl's favorite pastime. If we weren’t hitting up the mall for Slurpees and cheap jewelry from Claire’s, we were on AIM.
Every day after school, we’d jump off the bus, eat the snacks our moms had waiting and jump on our parents' janky PCs to log in and chat with all of our friends we’d just left at school.
Obviously, a lot had happened between the 3 pm bell and the 30 minutes it took to get home. I mean c'mon. It was the opportune time for talking to (or not talking to) our crushes, for personalizing our bios and for our favorite thing of all: gossiping.
Our time spent on AIM was our time of freedom. It was a haven for curse words and saying what we really thought of each other without all of the restrictions of school.
We all had those classic AIM chats in the 90s, the ones with shorthand text and old school emojis. Here are the conversations every 90s girl had over AIM:
1. The “Do you like me?”
It was always exciting to get above a nine from your future husband in sixth grade. It was just so validating. A 90s girl didn't need a solid 10 to feel special. I knew what Chunkymonkey69 and I had together was special.
2. The "What lyric should I make my away message?"
It was absolutely crucial to have the perfect song lyric that accurately described your personality. You had to use the power of alternative music to sum you up as a person. Were you soulful or edgy? Were you punk rock or girly? It was a lot of pressure.
3. The "Wazzup?!" and no follow up
There was nothing more exciting than getting an IM from your crush. But nothing left you more thirsty than the infamous "wazzup" with no follow-through. Was your "NM. U?" too forward? I guess you'll never know.
4. The "At least I have SmarterChild"
Yes, SmarterChild, I would like to talk about my butt again.
You might have even suspected that old SmarterChild was kind of a little bit into you. He was always there. When you spent countless hours sitting on chat, not having anyone to actually chat with, you could always hit up SmarterChild.
Your relationship with him didn't feel like it was human to robot; it felt like it was human to friend.
5. The classic “My mom is the woooorst”
AIM was the perfect place to bitch about your parents. You and your friends could spend countless hours talking about how they were out to ruin your lives and you never had to worry about them seeing it. You definitely knew to close out of every chat before leaving your family's computer.
6. The “Do you have the answers to the math homework?”
Let's face it, if you were the kid with a trampoline, you were getting the answers to the math homework. I have to wonder how many hours I actually spent on AIM when my parents thought I was finishing my assignments...
7. The “What did she say about me?!”
I'd say at least half of the conversations a 90s girl had on AIM was based on sh*t talking other girls. We loved to gossip and AIM gave us our fix. It was the perfect way to chat with several of our friends at once, allowing us to fully exploit our need for cattiness. Oh AIM, we miss you.
8. The "What order should I put my BFFs' initials in my profile?"
The order in which you listed your best friends' initials in your bio was the ultimate way to throw shade at whichever girls you weren't feeling at the moment.
There was so much anxiety surrounding that AIM bio. If you weren't listed in at least the top three on every friend's account, you would definitely have had a panic attack. I'm in a cold sweat thinking about this right now.
9. The "You’re a bitch!" & "Who is this?" combo
This was always an awkward encounter. How this strange person got your SN is pretty f*cking shady. Was it someone from school who was too afraid to confront you? Was it a stranger who was randomly putting in SNs to take out some pent-up aggression? Who knows.
10. The "Oh sorry, that was my cousin saying all that sh*t"
We all know it wasn't your cousin or brother.
11. The "A/S/L?"
Oh my God. Remember chat rooms? That sh*t was so dangerous and sketchy. Any girl in a chat room, willing to talk to random strangers certainly wasn't 18. We're onto you, UptownGurl54. We've all been you.
12. The “What are we doing today?”
There was nowhere we'd rather be than the mall. As long as mom could give us a ride in her minivan.
13. The "LOL, LMFAO, ROFL"
I mean, if the conversation didn't illicit at least one "ROFL" or "LOL," it clearly wasn't worth having.
14. The "My crush signed on" door open sound
This was the most wonderful sound in the whole world. You’d come home and log into your hot pink Apple desktop and just wait. Of course, then you just sat there and refused to IM him. You were more of the "silently freaking out" type.
15. The "Which boy band are you?"
Boy bands were the crux of all 90s girl conversation, especially on AIM. It was the easiest way to figure out when The Backstreet Boys or N'Sync were coming to town so you could collectively beg your parents to let you go.
You definitely weren't cool if you weren't going to see N'Sync. We still love you Justin.
16. The "You can't use the same Dashboard Confessional lyric as I did"
There was just no coming back from having the same song lyrics as someone else. That was so unoriginal.
17. The "We need to talk"
Being broken up with over AIM is the modern equivalent to a break-up text message. It was foul.
18. The "I made this account just to see if you like me"
Peter is totally just wondering if you like Sarah, Turtle2652. There is no way you're talking to Sarah pretending to be Peter. Pay no attention to the girl behind the screen!
19. The "How well do you know me?" quiz
“How well do you know me?” “78 Questions.” So many great opportunities to indulge in your preteen narcissism and share your thoughts to complete strangers you mistakenly thought gave a f*ck.
20. The "I can only express myself through emoticons"
Nowadays, there are so many emojis with so many different meanings, it can be overwhelming. Back in the 90s, it was just so much simpler. It was just a more innocent world back then.
21. The "Hey grandpa..."
Give ‘em a break, your grandparents were freaked out enough by AOL emails. Now they can remotely chat you across cyberspace? That had to be a head-trip for Gramps.