<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d5742108\x26blogName\x3dDiscount+Bananas\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://soonercary.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://soonercary.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-4225892882570869465', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

AIM, we hardly knew ye

Warning: nerdish ramblings ahead.

I like to consider myself at least fairly fluent in the ways of digital culture and communication. I am firmly a member of globalized, highly connected, socially-networked generation Y. I am a member of the first generation to truly embrace all things internet as a foundational way of life. The vast majority of my daily communication outside of being with people face to face occurs digitally. I keep up with 92 blogs every day. I send hundreds of text messages. Facebook is my second home. As George Carlin says, "I’ve been up linked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond!"

But, alas, I am seeing part of this amazing world of digital communication that has been such a huge part of my life slowly start to fade, and it makes me feel both sad and old. There is a generation of people that have mourned the loss of the written letter, and, in a way, I am feeling some of those same sentiments toward another way of communicating that seems to be heading towards the sunset.

I am talking about Instant Messenger. You might be saying to yourself, "I still use Instant Messenger all the time." Well, of course you do. And you are probably my age. But, as someone who has maintained a close connection with college students, I can say firsthand that Instant Messenger is quickly becoming a way of the past. In my college days, way back last century, Instant Messenger was the way to talk. Walk into any dorm room at any moment and you'd probably see roommates sitting three feet from each other talking through AIM. But, just two semesters ago, when I led a small group of about 15 underclassmen, I did an impromptu survey and ONE of them used AIM. It was shocking and devastating to me. Why would we abandon such an amazing technology?

The explanation that comes to me is that we text and Facebook now. But, I am a full, daily participant in the world of texting and Facebooking and I find it to not replace what AIM provides in any significant way. Facebook is a way of keeping tabs on people in an indirect way and communicating through small snippets of information back and forth, visually with photos, and whatnot. Texting is a way of reaching someone quickly and concisely and, in extreme cases, having conversation in a long, arduous way in abbreviated terms.

AIM never replaced face to face communication, of course, but it did and still provides a means of actually communicating in a fully-fleshed out way. I have nurtured a number of significant friendships through AIM that would not have developed hardly at all without it. To me, it is the middle ground between email (or Facebook or texting) and the telephone. It does not require the 100% attention or constant speaking that a phone conversation does, but it allows for a natural flow of conversation that emailing, Facebooking, or texting will never provide. It can be as casual as a text or as serious as a face to face meeting.

But, no matter how I feel about it, the glory days of AIM are over. Every day it is becoming more and more of a relic of the recent past. I cannot count on it as a way of communicating with students anymore, as much as I would like to. I love what Facebooking and texting provide - it is amazing. But those and other vehicles of connection have slowly squeezed out the one that was always my personal favorite (outside of face to face, of course).

I guess I'm a little bitter too because I like to think of myself as a pioneer in the AIM revolution. I had never heard of it until I read about one of its first versions in a little sidebar blurb in an old magazine. It sounded interesting so I downloaded it and started sending the invitations to join to all of my friends. Slowly they started getting on as well and soon it had become the new way to talk. And by the time college rolled around, it was the de facto standard. I'm pretty sure that was all because of me, of course. Remember private AIM chatrooms with all of your friends? Yes, I know I am a nerd. But everyone did it. Any of the old Freshmen Cult read this blog? That's where BellCow came from.

So, I salute you, AOL Instant Messenger, for what you did and continue to do, except not with hardly anyone much younger than me. I still believe in you.


« Home | Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »

Blogger Jessica - 10:37 PM

Oh, AIM! I miss you so! Nothing has quite replaced you. Thanks to AIM I met new friends, and reconnected with the man that would become my husband. I will remember you fondly. Rest in peace!    



» Post a Comment