Social Media Nostalgia - Do you remember AIM?
#SMLiveECI’s first video podcast took a short trip down memory lane last week as viewers live tweeted about instant messaging platforms from back in the day. Drew Wilder credited AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) for his incredible word processing speed while Amy Snyder reminisced on her old AIM screen names like tictacgurl2 and Bubsie06.
I started using AIM and MSN in middle school - so around 2000 or 2001. Today, I decided to sign into my old AIM screen name just for kicks. The nostalgia began to kick in as I saw my friend's ridiculous screen names. But who could blame them. My screen names over time included frenzyfreak11, spitfireinferno11, rumdidilyumcious, and finally schizosuperman. Of course, each screen name reflects a special story and unique time period of my life as I'm sure my friends’ screen names did as well. I was an avid superman fan, a spelling bee nerd, and went a little crazy on an epic, family road trip from Roswell, New Mexico to Toronto one summer: thus schizosuperman. But this could be another blog post in itself, or a premise for an academic dissertation: Breaking down the psyche of early teens through analysis of AIM screen names.
But let's be real. Schoolwork aside, we all know what AIM was really for. It was all about mustering up the courage to talk to the cute girls (or guys) you were crushing on at school. You got online to do your "homework," and it would be around that same time everyday when xoxocutiegirl1388xoxo's screen name would pop up letting you know she was online. Your heart would skip a beat as you clicked on her screen name to initiate a chat. But you would remember to keep it cool and not message her right away. After all, it's not like you were waiting for her to get online or anything. That's how it happened for me at least. I actually set up my first date via AIM. I guess social media is just one of those things that gives you the opportunity to have keyboard courage (see definition 5)– which I still probably suffer from today.
All that to say, AIM was a big part of growing up. I remember waiting for my friends to get online, so I could ask them for help on homework or just to shoot the breeze. While I waited for them, I killed time chatting with AIM bots like SmarterChild. This was before I had access to texting, so AIM was a big deal for staying connected.
I know, these stories of early teenage social media use are silly memories to look back on. But hey, it seems to have paid off in some ways. Amy has gone from Bubsie06 to social media manager for CUMTD, one of the best social media accounts in Champaign-Urbana. Drew translated his prolific word processing speed into to becoming a news anchor on The Morning Show on WCIA 3. I’ve gone from schizosuperman to become a social media consultant for small businesses and nonprofits. You gotta start somewhere, right?
What about you? Comment and share your thoughts about your own social media nostalgia. What early social media platforms did you use? What was your first AIM screen name and what’s the story behind it?
Superman image adapted from Lucidaemon, used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0