History Lesson: Instant Messaging

via hercampus.com

By Kyle Boris

Before the days of texting, FaceTime and GroupMe, there was a little piece of gold called AOL Instant Messenger. If you were a teenager in the late 90’s-early 2000’s, there’s a good chance you spent most of your time outside of school sitting on the computer using this service to talk to your friends. And you want to know something? I miss it.

Sure, AOL Instant Messenger, also known as AIM, had its flaws, but at the time it was all we really had to communicate with the outside world if we didn’t want to talk on the phone. Instead of only talking to one or two people on the phone, you could be having as many conversations as you wanted with AIM. Now, just like beepers, walkmen, iPod shuffles and MySpace, AIM is a thing of past and is in danger of being fully forgotten.

To prevent that from happening, I’ve put together a history lesson of AIM’s greatest moments so that children in the future can look back and understand just how amazing a time it was to be alive.


“Hey what’s your screen name?”

It’s a damn shame if you’ve never been asked that question. A screen name was what was used as your personal account like a phone number or a Twitter account. Once someone added your screen name you’d be on their buddy list and could message each other whenever you were both online.

Phone numbers are boring compared to the thousands of different screen names you could create for yourself to stand out. 555-555-5555 is just blah. XxdomiNicaNaQT14? fOOtbAlldood15? Sk8erBoiii? xoxoSexaYbby69? Now those are money. Why are there x’s in the front? Why are random letters capitalized? Why is normal spelling thrown out the window? No one knows, okay? But just know that it was horribly annoying when you got your friend’s screen name, but wrote down the wrong combination of letters or missed a letter which led to you sitting there for hours wondering where you went wrong.

If Celebs Had Screen Names in 2016:

DONALD TRUMP Prez4Lyfe2016
RIHANNA xxBarbadosChiKxxWoRK


You know how sometimes you get a text and you’re busy or just don’t feel like answering? Well, AIM had an answer for that in the form of an away message. An away message was used to show your buddies that you were either away from the computer or just busy with something else. See that guy or girl that annoys you log on? Just update that away message so when they go to message you they’re hit with:

Away Message: “Busy with homework :(”

Away messages were the original Facebook statuses where you could post your feelings and current situation:

“Why does this always happen to me? Over it. IM me I guess”

“Be back in an hour. My bro has to use the computer”

“BL, HS, IS, LP, AP, SA, MU, RG, HF, SC you guys ROCK! IM me if you wanna be in my away :P”

If Celebs Had Away Messages:

KEVIN DURANT Past is the past. New year new me with my boys Steph, Draymond and Klay
TAYLOR SWIFT Single…again :/ IM me
HILLARY CLINTON Hit me on here. E-mail is down
THE ROCK Wish you could smell what my mom is cooking! Dinner. BRB
DRAKE Missing her ūüė¶ hope she sees this
TIM TEBOW Made the team! TALK TO ME



The Buddy List was exactly what it sounds like; a list of your buddies. You could make plenty of buddy lists for every different group of friends; best friends, family, weirdos, BFFFFFs, and more. The possibilities were endless.

When you message everyone on your buddy list


If you had a crush and they were on AIM, chances are you were stressed beyond belief whether it be because you were waiting for them to log on or because you couldn’t think of what to say once they were online. Talking in school was one thing, but being able to carry that into hour-long conversations on the computer was the real test.

When you’re talking to bae

Was your crush talking about you in their cute away message? Did they not respond to you because they lost connection? How come they’re never online?

These were the questions that raced in your head each and every instant messaging¬†session. Worst part? When they finally answer you, but your mom tells you your 30 minutes are up and it’s your brother’s turn to use the computer.

When your crush ignores your instant message



You’ll never understand the absolute struggle that was the phone ringing while you were on AIM. Back in the day, whenever the phone and the computer were being used at the same time, all hell would break loose. One would lose connection and mini heart attacks were¬†the norm.


The original pick-up line, ASL was a way to ask people for their Age, Sex and Location. And yes, we all lied. This is probably how Catfishing started. I mean how else could you be a 21-year old male from Miami?


Before taking a screen shot, if stuff got real in a chat, you could actually print out the conversation and bring¬†it to school and show your friends. It’s no surprise that they wouldn’t believe you without hard evidence, anyways.


Door Closing? Your crush just signed off right when you signed on.

Door opening? Your bff just signed on and you can finally vent to them.

And there was of course the amazing sound when you finally got a message:

There’s plenty more to learn about AOL Instant Messaging, but these points should be more than enough to make you go try and log into your old account. If you never had an account, not to worry, AOL is still up and running so go make an account and get your friends to make one too! Maybe, together, we can bring back the legend that is AIM. This is BKgoal108 signing off. Check my away message if you need me.

Kyle Boris is a contributing editor for YourSitch.com

Twitter: @KyleNoStyle