I don’t know if this only happened at my middle school, but before screenshots and group texts, girls would print out AIM conversations they’d had with their crushes and bring them to class the next day to discuss and analyze with their girlfriends. Thinking back on moments like that reminds me just how much AIM was truly part of the culture growing up and how it quietly shaped the way we communicate now.
People my age have a unique relationship with the telephone. We’re old enough to remember collect calls and three-way calls and dial-up, but there was always a clunky analog nature to the device that didn’t correspond with the potential of the new technology that was emerging at the time. On the phone, you had to talk to adults before you talked to your friends. You had to get off the line because someone’s parent had to use it. We’re lucky that we had those experiences because we have telephone etiquette and know how to hold a conversation, but AIM provided a direct line of communication, free of supervision, that was no doubt the more favored method.