Entertainment

AOL Instant Messenger Is Shutting Down After 20 Years

Thus, We're Sharing Our Fondest AIM Memories. What Are Yours?

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Photo: PHILIPP GUELLAND / AFP / GETTY IMAGES via FiveThirtyEight

AIM, the instant-messaging platform that gave a generation of middle-schoolers a chance to talk to boys/girls they were too afraid to talk to in person, is shutting down after 20 years on December 15th. Disregarding the fact that you were probably unaware that it hadn't shut down already, like, 10 years ago, the news comes as quite a shock. It truly feels like the end of an era, a death knell of sorts for the '90s. Which is why we're celebrating its impending shutdown with our fondest memories (and embarrassing-amazing first screen names). 

Share yours with us on Twitter.

Ilana Dadras
First Screen Name: LaniLu23. My nickname is Lani, so that part makes sense. My family sometimes adds the "Lu," so I also understand that part. But the 23... I think at some point I decided 23 was my favorite number for no real reason. Whenever anyone would ask me about the number, I would respond, "2 because I love Derek Jeter, and 23 because I also love Michael Jordan," which truly baffles me in retrospect as I've never really been much of a sports fan.
Fondest AIM memory: Carefully crafting passive-aggressive away messages aimed at boys who had wronged me, and/or updating my profile with the latest lyric that truly spoke to me. ~*I'vE SeEn More SPiNe iN a JelLy Fish, SeEn MoRe GuTs in 11 YeaR Old Kidz*~ (Honestly still a choice insult in my book.)

Sam Eichner
First Screen Name: moviecritic11. For some reason in 4th grade or whatever year I made a screen name, I was super into reading the movie reviews in my local suburban newspaper, back when local suburban newspapers still ran movie reviews. I still get shit for this; looking back, this was a super weird screen name for a 10-year-old to choose. But it was also oddly prescient, in the sense that I do occasionally critique movies. 
Fondest AIM Memory: There was nothing quite like the thrill of talking to a girl you liked at school for hours on end on AIM without ever actually talking to her in person. (Boy, did AIM prepare my generation for online dating or what?) I remember one particular flirtation that lasted several hours. I remember the pop-up window that came up when you got a message from someone who wasn't your friend yet. I remember where I was when the conversation was going on, sitting on the edge of my seat in my mom's den, waiting on her every word. I don't remember the content of the conversation—just that it went on for hours. And that when we finally got together in the same room we had nothing to say to each other. We didn't even make out. Not making out feels, in retrospect, emblematic of my entire adolescence. 

Thompson Brandes
First Screen Name: My first and only AIM screen name—which I created at roughly nine years old—was nkgj24. I told a whole bunch of friends in middle school that I couldn't remember what it meant for the life of me, because in a sea of slamminsammy21s and qtchick89s, it was quite a weird and silly screen name, really. But psst, come here. Lean in close because I'm going to tell you what it stood for:

n = Nike
kgj = Ken Griffey Jr.
24 = My little league number and by god wouldn't you know it, Ken Griffey Jr.'s number, as well. 

I liked Ken Griffey Jr. to an alarming degree. I was a dork. I didn't want a single person to know this.
Fondest AIM Memory: But my fondest memory, by a long shot, was using the away message function to spit hot, flaming pettiness at any ex or crush who had the ungrateful nerve to spurn my romantic 12-year-old advances. Oh, so you're holding hands with Mark Couchman in a packed showing of Behind Enemy Lines now, huh? Let me put you on away message blast real quick courtesy of Lloyd Banks's Karma:

I am the one you denied
Brushed me off everytime I tried
But I'm alright
I'm able to swallow my pride
And put all the bullshit to the side
If you ready to ride
I'm down for a one night stand
I'll accept it any way that I can
Cause I ain't yo man
I'll try for whatever it's worth
Just remember who played who first

Bitch.

Hannah Kim
First Screen Name: xobananababiexo (don't judge me). Sigh* RIP AIM. I loved your dramatic ways.
Fondest AIM Memory: When I was pissed off and wanted to stop talking to the person on the other end of the chat I could just sign off and there would be a literal door slam sound effect. Even more dramatic, you could just pretend to 'sign-off' and go incognito.

Sigh* I'll miss you.

Bailey Edwards
First Screen Name: My screen name was BizzyCouldBizzyWould and I made my dad create it for me.
Fondest AIM Memory: My aim profile featured the lyrics from sunscreen by Baz Luhrman and shouted out all my friends using their initials as if I was a rapper name-dropping my crew in a very fire song.

Kelly Larson
First Screen Name: No clue, but I hope it was savagegarden_69.
Fondest AIM Memory: I had a word processor in college, so...

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