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Tip: Sign In to save these choices and avoid repeating this across devices. You can always update your preferences in the Privacy Centre. Before you continue Those incidental friendships, forged in IRC clients, Newgrounds forums, man Ragnaros wipes, scattered across the globe when the web was young? They came into your life and played Fall Out Boy over Ventrilo.
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They came into your life and disappeared forever. Do you remember when snapping a selfie required a frustrating tangle of mechanical coercion, but it was worth it to show them your face?
When real-life names were rarefied information shared exclusively through digital blood pacts? AIM shut down today, and the only thing I can think about is how all of those people still exist somewhere, perhaps exploring the same pit in their stomach that I am. AIM belongs to all of us. As a pioneering force of internet communication, anyone born in the early '90s or late '80s has spent some time on the platform.
As a year old, I'm crucially aware that my appreciation for the prodigal instant messenger is colored by a nostalgia that has nothing to do with the service itself.
It was simply the medium of choice to grouse about homework, The Decemberists, girls I liked, and the rest of my random bullshit. But I do believe that there's a special union between AIM and people who grew up playing games, or at least came of age on the internet with people who played games. The early millennium revolutions in online multiplayer pitted us together and asked us to collaborate, so of course we carried those early internet accords to their logical extremes—talking all night in lonely chat boxes about what's cool, what sucks, and how easy it is to relate.
In , the web feels less like something I approach for those connections, and more like an overwhelming ennui that I'm constantly trying to outrun.
Boston's Kyle Seeley nailed that feeling perfectly with 's Emily is Away , and this year's sequel Emily is Away Too—both of which transport you back to the spongy leather office chairs of your parents' computer room. Emily Is Away is about those relationships we made through long nights of baring our souls through a keyboard.
That's how I used AIM, to have a very intimate conversation with another person. Now we have texting and Facebook messenger, but you can use those wherever you are," he says. But when you were using AIM, you were sitting down at a computer to talk to people. You had their undivided attention.
Emily is Away tributes AIM in the only way anyone can—spinning a yarn of disentranced high-school drama that eventually mounts into something deeply sad.
AIM brought instant messaging to the masses, teaching skills for modern communication
The way Seeley presents an old Windows XP desktop, with the hilariously temperamental tastes of your idiot friends revealing themselves in their bios and away messages until one day they stop logging on entirely is immediately resonant. We've all had our Emilys. Like eight hours, 10 hours straight. You get all the small talk out of the way in the first hour, and then you're talking about these big teenager questions.
Who am I?
AOL's instant messenger is back: Meet AIM Phoenix
Who do I want to be? I think AIM was really good at that. It was always difficult for me to articulate the intimacy I felt with my internet friends to my parents. There were the obvious, mechanical mistranslations; I begged my mother for early exits from countless family dinners that consistently managed to interfere with my guild's crucial Molten Core attempts.
I quickly created a new screen name: Exlaxchick87 and then I sent him an IM.
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He did not respond. I waited for days, his name appearing and disappearing on my Buddy list like a lighthouse blinking in the night. Eventually, I got around to looking into what Exlax was. I never contacted him again. He did not return to camp the next year, I assume out of respect for me. This is the kind of stuff that happened on AIM. It was the wild west of middle school by which I mean not that it was out of control, but that you were free to be someone new.
Your AIM self was not who you were at school. AIM was freedom. It was the secret eject button for adolescence that for some reason was bestowed upon our generation. Teens today can send photos through text, but we had to be more clever.