An Ode To AOL & AIM Chatrooms

WHAT WAS A CHATROOM?

Circa 1990-something, a chatroom was a place you could virtually go to interact with other people. First you had AOL chatrooms. This was before AOL’s free instant messaging service, AIM, took over. In AOL chatrooms, you could chose from one of the MANY categories and enter a chatroom to find a bunch of fucking weirdos saying weird fucking things to one another.

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On AIM, you could create your own “private” chatrooms, inviting only people you knew to them — which became the cool way to socialize outside of school (or at school if you were in “keyboarding class” or something). Face to face interaction? No thanks. Talking on the phone? Maybe later when you weren’t tying up the phone line while logged on to the Internet (only the lucky could do both at the same time). You were all about maximizing the amount of people you talked to online, and the best way to do that was through the chatroom.

TYPES OF CHATROOMS

We briefly touched on this before, but there were a lot of different types of chatrooms out there on AOL. It was almost like being on Craigslist in realtime without having to click on any advertisements. Basically, it was like if Reddit and Craigslist had a child.

You could enter a chatroom to talk about music (like, there may or may not have been a chatroom dedicated to “Nsync”) or Pokemon cards or your homework (why would anyone do that) or… sex, which was probably the most amusing one for every 11 year old kid surfing the web. Like Craigslist, there was something for everyone.

As for private AIM chatrooms, you could create your own. THE SKY WAS THE LIMIT.

WHO WENT TO PUBLIC CHATROOMS?

Future fucking trolls. Comment sections weren’t as interactive as they are now, so trolls found a way to live a second life in public chatrooms with their cyber friends. For instance, if you entered a chatroom about Nsync, there were probably 3-4 people bashing the band already. Like, why enter the chatroom when you don’t even like what it’s about?! Fucking trolls.

Cat fishing creeps. I mean, I don’t know this, but I assume many people were sitting naked at their computers messaging people in chatrooms lying about their A/S/L when looking for someone to ‘cyber’ with. Gross.

Nerdy teenagers. *Must enter the science fiction/Harry Potter chatroom now.* (Not all nerds tho, other types of nerds were too busy learning HTML on FunkyChickens.com, this was me, long live FunkyChickens.com)

Pre-teens. After mommy and daddy upgraded one’s AOL account from AOL Kids Only to the big leagues, getting rid of parental controls, the pre-teens went HAM online. They had more games to choose from. More websites to browse. And CHATROOMS to take part in. What was a chatroom to these kids? They didn’t really know. But they were there giggling with their friends sitting next to them as they entered the world of the unknown.

WHAT HAPPENED IN PUBLIC CHATROOMS?

Nothing good.

A lot of people IMing nonsense to strangers. A lot of people expressing anger. A lot of different text colors and fonts, but mostly A LOT of comic sans.

Occasionally, you would see the infamous question “A/S/L.” Age, sex, location. Naive young people everywhere believed others always told the truth about this. But, like, helloooooo. Have you seen To Catch a Predator? How many 42 year old men were pretending to be 13 year old boys? A lot probs.

WHAT HAPPENED IN PRIVATE CHATROOMS?

Nothing good OR nothing at all.

aim-chat-room

You either had a bunch of friends/aquaintances in a chatroom being like “hi” “hi” “what’s up” “nmu” “nm” “cool” … or you had a bunch of girls talking shit about people… leading to someone printing out the convo… and then bringing it to school to start some majorrrrr DrAmA.

Most of the time though, these chatrooms were harmless. Pointless actually. The amount of time I spent in chatrooms, and the amount of time I spent waiting to be invited to chatrooms as a youth was ridiculous.

People you interacted with in chatrooms became people you would call “friends.” Like, if I never talked to so-and-so in real life, but I had been in chatrooms with them, NBD. We were now friends. THEY WERE AIM PROFILE FRIEND INITIAL LIST WORTHY.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CHATROOMS?

You might think they don’t exist anymore… oh but they do. Just in other forms.

You have reddit. You have comment sections on articles, on Facebook posts, on Instagram pictures, etc.

And the real lovers of chatrooms have most likely moved on to such activities like.. TROLLING.

That is all. Ttyl byeeeeee*~ <3

**DOOR SHUTTING SOUND**

Samantha Matt

Hi I’m Sam. I made this website in 2011 and it’s still going. My first book, AVERAGE IS THE NEW AWESOME, is coming out in January (you can buy it right now on Amazon or from your fave bookstore!). I like pizza, French fries, barre, spin, more pizza, more French fries, and buying clothes. Writing is fun. Follow me on twitter & Instagram at @samanthamatt1... and on this site's meme account on IG at @20somethingproblems. OKAY GREAT THANKS BYE.

2 Comments
  1. Knock it but i was in Science fiction chatroom and i met Angarmarwitchking and we have been together 12 years and are both very happy 🙂

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