:’(

On December 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger will take the Running Man out behind the shed and put him out of his misery. Because the world is too glutted with text-based forms of communication, most of which now include the option to send high-resolution booby pics. How could the simple pleasures of sitting in front of your iMac G3 until it finally connects to dial-up compete?

Yet. We mourn. Let’s take an auditory walk down memory lane.

For many, using AIM was the first moment you understood what this internet life was about. You could talk to your friends—in fact, many friends at once—while also watching TV. You could save snippets of conversations with your crush, then print them out and paste them in your journal. Or even forward them to an entirely different person (perhaps a second crush you wanted to make jealous) for analysis.

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How many secrets were we able to admit in halting snippets that we could not confess in person? In 2017, we’re all The Bard of expressing our feelings via text, but back then, the freedom of faceless communication was fairly new and exhilarating. Bonds formed and memes were shared before we knew what memes were or grasped their horrific power. Cyber-sexing some rando at a slumber party with five of your friends, pretending you were one woman who owned a pink New Beetle. It is only because of AIM that I can type more than 10 words a minute.

It was a time when the Internet was Good.

Now the Internet is Very Very Bad.

As a memoriam to this era of innocence, we salute some of our former AIM account names:

  • LuvBallxx (“which meant basketball but kept getting misconstrued”)
  • aquamist7
  • tiaraprincess77
  • billionthindian
  • megancr
  • wakeuptotheradio
  • muyjawnita
  • blueflower555

I wish I could share mine, but I did some weird shit in high school with it. Farewell, old friend! You taught us to walk. We must run on towards destruction, without you.

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Status: Away.