The New York Times reports that AOL has fired virtually everyone on its AIM team. All that remains are employees who fall under the “support staff” banner. As Gizmodo notes, “support staff only means no more developers. No more developers means no more new software. No more new software means AIM stops growing and changing forever, frozen on the decline—we’ll never know if the new client could have been great.”
AIM is dead. It’s over. And with it, so goes an era.
You see, for people of a certain generation (mine), AIM was, in many ways, the first social network. Before there was Twitter, Facebook, Gchat, Skype and even text messaging, there was AIM and the friends and strangers you had in your contact list. I remember being in college when I first loaded the AOL software on my computer (remember when you needed a disk for everything?) and it was life-changing. It was the first real way to communicate with people in real time on the internet. I’d spend hours chatting with friends — friends in the same house as me, friends on the other end of the world. It was so goddamn cool at the time. I’ll never forget how overjoyed I was when me and a buddy figured out how we could AIM to cheat with each other when we played cards online. We were digital geniuses for a brief moment in time.
Oh, and “cybersex?” Remember when that was the new scary thing the kids were doing that was going to destroy America? Before there was porn everywhere on the web, there was AIM — which you could use to talk dirty with other people while you touched yourself in naughty places. I’ll never forget how thrillingly forbidden that felt.
Anyway, it’s over, and that makes me kind of sad (insert sound of door slamming…”Goodbye”). RIP AIM. Okay, I’ll get off my nostalgia soapbox now.