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AOL Instant Messenger is no more, and it's okay your inner 13-year-old is crying

Published Dec. 15, 2017

Saying goodbye to an old friend stings.

On the morning of Dec. 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger died.

Take a moment to allow the 13-year-old inside of you let out a deep sob; think about the bulletin you wish you could post to your MySpace page about how unfair it is that the messaging platform of your youth is no more.

Don't hold back. I want to feel the ~*AnGsT*~.

Because you're an adult now, the world is cruel, and wait — I have to ask — who was still on AIM, anyway?

AOL posted to its website five days ago they would be ending the once popular instant-messaging service this Friday. News first broke that AIM would see its last months in October of this year.

Read more: AIM announces it will end services

"We know there are so many loyal fans who have used AIM for decades; and we loved working and building the first chat app of its kind since 1997," the company wrote.

But as happens with most technologies, AOL said it was time to move on and, for anyone who had yet to sever the ties, to finally say goodbye.

For the record: I know non-millennials used AIM, too. You probably used it at work, maybe you ventured into a chatroom out of curiosity. But for most people who are now in their 20s and early 30s, AIM was a way of life. Like get-home-from-school-slam-your-backpack-down-and-run-straight-for-the-computer life.

There was a standard setup on your Windows 95 desktop: AIM minimized while you custom-coded your MySpace page layout and listened to music playing on LimeWire.

The screen names were embarrassing, your away messages were dramatic, and your "about me" section included the lyrics to "Wonderwall" in a customized font color.

It seems so simple now. Pure, even. It was cool to change up your screen names: I recall RockSock182 being my first, before I graduated to the much more sophisticated when_y0u_smilex. (Both paid homage to my fav band, Blink-182.)

I made custom Buddy Icons in Microsoft Paint. (That's probably the most early 2000-era sentence I've ever penned.) I learned what "LOL" meant and how to ROFL. I briefly stopped spelling words correctly, typing baby as "BaBii" and replacing "O" with zero and "S" with "z." ii felt rly c00l.

Honestly, I didn't realize that AIM hadn't already shut down for good years ago. I imagine most of us had naturally moved onto Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, SnapChat, iMessage ... there's not exactly a shortage of options.

"AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed," said Michael Albers, the vice president of communications product at Oath, the parent company of AOL, in a statement on Friday.

Ain't that the truth.

I used to text my friends to get on AIM as soon as they could. I had something really important to tell them, but I wasn't allowed to send more than a few texts a month. It was too expensive.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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