AOL Instant Messenger: A Personal History
AOL Instant Messenger will shutter in December, but it will live on forever in our hearts. Here are all the dumb screen names I used while learning how to communicate with people on the Internet, a skill I utilize to this day.
1. 6th grade, Ninjamonkey8600
This screen name came to me at a time when the height of middle school humor was “being random.”
If I’d had the words at the time, I might have described “being random” as a type of dadaist anti-humor. In practice, being random meant calling everyone you met “Bob” or interjecting the word “squirrel” into all your sentences. I discovered “being random” right around the time I learned I could trick people into liking me by making them laugh.
This screen name holds absolutely no personal significance to my life. I’ve never been into ninjas, or monkeys, and the number 8600 is completely meaningless. Put those three things together and it was sooo fucking random.
2. 7th grade, Crazee4elijah
Crazy with two E’s, numeral four, Elijah as in Elijah Wood, the five-foot-six hobbit of my heart. In 8th grade, we all dedicated our screen names to our celebrity crushes. Althea’s was ATimberlake16. Eva’s was Gyllenhaalic08.
My locker was wallpapered with pictures of Elijah Wood. When I heard the Fox Valley Mall had Lord of the Rings cardboard cutouts, I actually called to reserve a Frodo. Finally, I would have a life-sized Elijah Wood to watch over me while I slept. I got to FYE to discover the cutout only came up to my knees, even though it was the same price as the full-sized Legolas. This remains the biggest injustice of my young life.
3. Freshman year, Nnakedllama
Two N’s, two L’s. I was really into Napoleon Dynamite. In fact, For Halloween, I wore a Vote for Pedro t-shirt and a curly blonde wig. People asked if I was dressed as a grandma.
4. Sophomore year, Aaaarimapirate
It was 2006. Pirates of the Caribbean was still really cool, okay? I had a shirt that said “Kiss Me, I’m a Pirate.” I also had a Green Day shirt that said “Kiss me, I’m Punk.” I desperately wanted to be kissed.
5. Junior Year, DaKiiiiirby
That’s DaKiiiiirby with 5 I’s. 4 I’s is someone else.
6. Junior Year, Touchmystiffy
Eva and I made this screen name for trolling sexy AOL chat rooms. It was inspired by a throwaway line in Queer as Folk. We weren’t old enough to buy the NC-17 Queer as Folk DVDs, so I would save crumpled dollar bills and have my sister buy them for me in secret. I learned more about sex from Queer as Folk than I did from the chat rooms.
I finally settled on this screen name my senior year of high school, it’s still my Instagram name. Thus, we witness the birth of my personal brand.