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AIM’s Legacy Is One That Will Live On

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aim aol instant messenger

Just because I didn’t know AIM still existed doesn’t mean I’m not saddened by the news of its impending death. Today’s AIM is likely only used by creepy men who chat back and forth with Chris Hansen, but that’s not the way it used to be. When AIM was first born in May of 1997, it was a revolution. It was the original text message. It was the first time in the history of man that we could talk to hot girls without having to actually approach them. For me, a five-foot-nothing, red-faced kid with braces who had a body skinnier than a lizard’s arm and an odd, vertically-shaped yet still mysteriously-bulbous head, it was a game changer.

In my younger Jimmy Neutron-headed/dwarfish state, I didn’t much care for approaching girls, but AIM gave me a way to speak to them anyways. AIM made me feel like I could talk to women, which at that time was all that I needed. I still didn’t get laid until I was 18, so it didn’t exactly put me over the top, but that’s not the goddamn point. AIM didn’t just help subpar-looking boys talk to girls; it laid the foundation for some of the most important things in today’s society. AIM is the founding father of modern day trolling, the casual breakup, and the classic games Top 5 and Fuck, Marry, Kill.


I’m a troll through and through. When I got my first job and it came with a work phone, I immediately pretended to be a strip club promoter and would text my friend Nick to tell him about the sick deals we had going on. I’d tell him things like we had a free lap dance specia,l and that if he texted me back the words “DANCES-4-ME” he would receive the promotion. He tried to unsubscribe multiple times (obviously to no avail), and then 2 weeks later he called me asking if I was also receiving these texts. I said yes, and that I’d tried to unsubscribe but it wouldn’t work. This went on for only… 6 months, until Nick went through my work phone and saw a text from it to him that read: “The Girls Are Waiting! Don’t Be Shy You Big Guy!” He was shocked. He said he was sure it was an actual promoter because “he never thought anyone would be annoying and dumb enough to troll for so many months.” I am both of those things, and it’s all because of AIM, which gave me the platform to conduct my first successful mid-level troll. I haven’t looked back since.

In middle school, Kristin was the hottest chick in the game. Still is, actually. Back then, she went by Chick0915. I was Hotsizzzauce, and my best friend was MidgetRock104. One night, MidgetRock and I realized that if we created the screen name Chick09i5 but capitalized the “i,” it would look identical to Chick0915. So we went ahead and did that. Then, we selected Zachary as our hapless target. We messaged him and began flirting. We chatted for a while, told him how cute he was, hit him with an elongated “BRB” just to get his heart pounding, and then asked if he wanted to go on a date to the movies that night. Of course he said yes. He was thrilled; he would’ve wrapped himself in bacon and swam through a swamp if those were his only clothes and that were the only route to the movie theater.

The movie was at 8:30 p.m., so at 7:45 p.m. Midgetrock and I called Zach to tell him the bad news — there was no movie, and there was no smoking hot Kristin. It was mean, hilarious, and perfect. After Zach fell victim, we ran this troll back all night on other unsuspecting buddies. That night changed my life. It showed me the incredible possibilities of fucking with your friends. It laid the foundation for the modern day troll.

The Casual Breakups

Breaking up when you’re young is never fun. Most people I knew wouldn’t break up just because it was so uncomfortable to have to do it face-to-face. That all changed when AIM showed up and people could break up online. When AIM picked up steam, chicks began dumping their boyfriends in record numbers. One time a girl got wind that I was going to ask her out, so she preemptively dumped me on AIM before I had even had the chance.

Every morning, a new friend would show up to school heartbroken because his girlfriend dumped him the night before. AIM was the shovel that dug the graves, and these 12-year-old chicks were kicking our bodies into them. It wasn’t all doom, though, because AIM allowed us chat with our ex’s friends after we got dumped. Today, it’s a known fact that if a girl breaks up with you, you do the right thing and try to bang her friends — but that wasn’t the case until AIM arrived. It was the first time we could be broken up with by a girl then send a message to her BFF the very next second. It’s what started it all!

Top 5/Fuck, Marry, Kill

Fuck, Marry, Kill is really just a slight deviation of the classic Top 5 list on AIM. Back in the day my friends and I would huddle around the computer and ask chicks for their Top 5 hottest guys in the grade list.

Requesting a Top 5 was risky — nothing was more gratifying than seeing your name pop up on the reply, but nothing was more devastating than when your buddies’ names appeared and you were left out in the cold. I remember once when I was left out of Jackie’s Top 5 (rightfully so; I was a garden gnome) and I began lobbying for myself.

“What about Ryco, he’s cool?” I said.

Jackie responded, “Maybe if it was a Top 20 list.”

I never lobbied again. From that point on, whenever I wasn’t in a Top 5, I assumed I was #6 and left it alone. The point is, the Top 5 list was a game that let us know where we stood in contrast to our peers, and its present day adult form is a Top 2 list with three options known as Fuck, Marry, Kill.

In conclusion: as we prepare to say goodbye to AIM (how does AOL still exist at all?), we must honor the legacy that it will leave. We have to remember the good times, the bad times, and the time Emily Reed told me that I looked like a rat, sending me into a mental tailspin for 8 months. I’m shocked to see AIM go (because I thought it went 10 years ago), but now that I know it still exists, I can say with confidence that it’s certainly time for it to be killed.

Rest easy, old friend.

Image via Flickr

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Ryco is a middling writer and a wildly mediocre stand-up comedian. He runs the unsuccessful Dead Jesters Sketch Comedy Podcast on iTunes.

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