In the early days of the internet, online culture for an entire generation revolved around one thing: AIM. AOL Instant Messenger, the desktop program that was a text messaging service, talk forum, and dating site before any of those things really existed in popular culture, will shut down for good in December after 20 years.
If you were a teen born in the late 80s and early 90s, you might remember AIM as a lifeline to social activity outside of school. Screen names like SurferMoose05 and BlueEyedBabe14 were taglines and forms of self expression before everyone had a funny display name on Twitter, and the infamous “away message” was the best place to post Hawthorne Heights lyrics before dating apps like Tinder just linked right up to your Spotify.
But let’s be real: for horny teens, AIM was the original dating app. Even if we don’t use it anymore, we’re sad to see it laid to rest.
The little lurch of getting a new Tinder match is nothing compared to the joy and excitement of hearing AIM’s familiar ping and seeing a “sup” from your crush at school. It was a way to talk to the girl you couldn’t look in the eyes in math class from the comfort of your home, in the hopes that someday enough “;)” might lead to an actual date. (Need some new tips for pleasing a woman?