There’s not much that screams “senior” or “technophobe” more loudly in the digital age than an AOL.com email address. You should see the looks I get when I give someone my AOL email address in 2017! I’ve even been asked on occasion if I have another email I’d prefer to use. Truth be told, I have a Gmail account, and several gmail.com email addresses, and I’m no technophobe. I actually teach social media and digital marketing courses. I use my more socially acceptable email accounts in professional or business situations, and I would never, ever give my AOL.com email when applying for a job. Believe me, I would be judged if I did!
We became an AOL.com family sometime in the mid-ninties. Remember the complimentary installation CDs you could pick up from the displays at the register at Blockbuster Video or the drug store? AOl.com (also known as America Online) begin mailing disks in 1993, and exceeded 35 million members by 2002. AOL just announced it is shutting down AIM, its long-running instant messenger service that was at the core of many millennials first social experiences on the internet. AOL acknowledged that the service was no longer needed since people now communicate in new ways online. I must say, I thought it was shut down years ago! According to The Verge:
…with the proliferation of smartphones, everything has changed. Text messaging has taken over for desktop instant messaging apps, and increasingly, we’re seeing other social apps, like Snapchat and Instagram, take over for those in certain ways. For straight messaging, Facebook also makes things much easier, since you’re already connected to everyone you know and can just start up a chat without exchanging arcane things like screen names. In fact, Facebook has multiple billion-user messaging services at this point, Messenger and WhatsApp.
I’m not sure why, but I still have a certain loyalty to my aol.com email, stigma and all. I feel a bit of comfort while browsing through my AOL mail, similar to leisurely browsing on a website or at a bookstore. Perhaps it’s because none of my current business associates or clients will be trying to contact me there. One of the excuses I use for keeping my aol.com email is that I have given that email address to so many business and billing contacts over the years that I would be concerned about missing important information. I also freely give this email address to retailers and online companies who want my email address to add to their email marketing lists. Maintaning an AOL account cuts down on the junk mail that would otherwise go to my Gmail accounts.
Have you held on to your old AOL email account? Was AIM part of your early social media experience? Share your AOL experiences with us.