Anyone who was growing up in the ’00s can probably list off their top five AOL Instant Messanger screen names (mine was mIsTaKeMaKeR208) and remember at least one song they put in their AIM info section (Avril Lavigne‘s “Too Much to Ask”). We remember the late-night AIM chats with our middle school crushes and the way that our AIM away messages served at the original subtweet. Long before even MySpace, there was AIM — and we were all completely obsessed.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but today AOL has announced that the messaging service will be officially discontinued on December 15, 2017. Sure, most of us haven’t logged onto our AOL accounts since we got our first MacBook laptops but there’s something about knowing that we never can again — even if we wanted to — that feels like a particular kind of tragic. Knowing that modern tweens and teens won’t get to pick out their Paramore-themed buddy icon and stay up long past their bedtime talking to Smarterchild (the OG Siri) makes us feel not only bad for them but also nostalgic for the good ol’ days of the running man, buddy lists and cleverly coded screen names.
Personally, some of my best and worst memories from my adolescence were all over AOL Instant Messenger. The first time someone ever asked me out (the relationship lasted four days), getting cyberbullied by a rando who made an entire AIM profile pretending to be my friend, hell — my 7th grade BFF found out her dad was having an affair through my AIM chats (long story). While it’s definitely sad that we’ll be saying goodbye to such a beloved program, there’s no doubt in my mind that its legacy will live on forever.