What Was Your AIM Screen Name and Do You Wanna Log Back On?

For those of us over a certain age, 90s nostalgia is hitting right now. Remember when it cost a few cents to send a text? When the Internet seemed so full of potential to positively transform society? When we were gracefully shielded from the truth because presidents didn’t have a tool to constantly let us all know their terrible inner thoughts, and we didn’t have a literally unlimited number of perfect-looking “regular” people with amazing lives to compare ourselves against?

Shelli started it, by posting a picture in our Slack of a laptop logged into 1997chat – a simple web service that allows you to relive the 90s by utilizing a clunky, basic instant messenger client that looks a lot like AIM, which everyone born between 1980 and 1995 (and surely lots of other folks as well) was using every single night. I asked out my first girlfriend over AIM! A lot of breakups also happened over AIM. Likely a lot of “cyber” sex, too. But mostly just good old wholesome chatting with friends!

Curious what your friendly Autostraddle writers and editors’ screen names were? Let’s surf the Information Superhighway back down memory lane!


Shelli Nicole:
I downloaded this and It feels right

pic of laptop logged into 1997.chat

Drew Gregory:
Oo I am definitely going to join you
I just need to think of a screen name
I could keep SprtsFreek1224 from my elementary school days but I’m not trying to prove as much now

Shelli Nicole:
Wow I literally have aim up while writing an article as an out queer girl in my own apartment. My 14 year old self is so happy
Oh my original was seashellz59 :)

Vanessa:
mine was VeeGirlie12 and princezzvee

Archie:
Going back to my Age/sex/location roots

Christina Tucker:
Mine was… SwexyLlama77 for a while

valerie:
I had some… really embarrassing ones. My very first one, my mom made up for me, because I was in like 5th grade… it was AceReader. Though to be honest once I started choosing them on my own they weren’t much better. We had the very original ButterflyGirl713 and BroadwayGirl713 (worth noting here that my birthday is not, as these would suggest, July 13th), SportyAlien3 (Sporty Aliens 1 and 2 were my friends Lisa and Kasey. We were very into Sporty Spice and, well, aliens.)

Abeni:
mine was DratiniJ for a while, which is a pokemon
and then i had a lot with underscores and x’s in it. like xx_somber_mood_xx kinda stuff lol. i’m glad i don’t remember those ones verbatim

Malic White:
My screen name was horses4eva90, so I am required by law to be gay now.

Heather:
My AOL screenname was GeorgiaMntnBiker, which sums up several things about my personality that are still true to this day: I am very Southern, riding a bike is my favorite activity, and I have never been capable or interested in being coy. Whatcha see is whatcha get! 🚲

Kayla Kumari:
My AIM screenname was lovexpeacexunity and I have NO COMMENT

riese:
my first AIM Screen name was PopTartGod, because I loved pop tarts more than anything in the world

Rachel Lewis:
I do not remember my screen name but in case it’s helpful, I desperately wanted my screenname to involve “xxx” because I thought that’s what the cool girls had, and then my mom told me I couldn’t. I got pissed off at her, but then she finally explained that “xxx” referred to sex/porn/explicit content/etc and I was so embarrassed that that memory is stronger for me than my actual screenname itself.

sarah:
i was pinkskittle619 on AIM and then switched to mIzZgUrLiEgUrL when we got AOL

Bailey:
AOL was sybagirl. Big mistake. Big. HUGE.

Jehan:
I’m here to sheepishly report that my screen name was urbanbeauty13. I can’t even explain how much this choice makes me physically uncomfortable to this day 🤦🏾‍♀️

Kamala:
umm, mine was GRIF105 which was a baseball reference to Ken Griffey Jr. who I guess saw as like daddy inspiration, and this radio station in the bay area called Live105 which was where I listened to Nirvana, Bush, The Counting Crows, Weezer, Everclear and all my favorite bands. I was in a masc phase in 5th grade?

kaelyn:
I was Magenta512, for the character I most identified with from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (which yes, I’ve already unpacked exhaustively), Magenta. I also had a Sim named Magenta Curry around this time in my life.

Drew Gregory:
I just made my away message Fiona Apple lyrics and it was pure serotonin
I hope my sister doesn’t message Kori Denning on my account while I’m in the shower like she did when I was in 5th grade

rachel:
just thinking about hearing the door creaking sound effect has leveled me


What was your screen name? Your buddy icon? Did you use glitter girls or BRATZ in your “profile?” How do you feel about it now? Are you gonna exit out of those group chats, log off of Twitter, and jump on the 1997 train to go back to the simpler times of AIM like we are, apparently, doing right now?

Abeni Jones is a trans woman of color artist, educator, writer, and designer living in the Bay Area, CA. Follow her art on Instagram @abeni.jones or check out her website at abenijones.net. Got a music recommendation, a positive trans woman story/news item, or wanna book me for something? e-mail me by clicking here!

Abeni has written 63 articles for us.

30 Comments

  1. I may have had another one at some time, but my regular AIM was NovaZero. I also had many roleplaying screen names at various times 2001 thru maybe 2016. I miss the roleplaying stuff periodically because it was pretty relationship-y and I met some good friends there, but there were downsides (it was time/life consuming, there were also shitty people!) that keep me from seeking it out again.

    I miss away messages though. and just randomly IMing my friends when they were away so they’d have fun stuff to come back to.

    • Oh man, roleplay via AIM was a huge part of my life. I never started a separate account but that was a big way some of my friends stayed in touch, and it’s a big part of how I got better at writing. I really miss it sometimes.

  2. too young for the aol/aim train but my first email address in the pre-gmail days was the v professional rocketgirl[birthyear] which i’m not typing out fully because yes maybe i still use that for things. i love space and having been born

    you never forget applying for a job and having to spell that bad boy out character by character to the interviewer and thinking ‘hm maybe i should make a professional address?’

    • I felt the entirety of Shelley’s “Ozymandias” while reading this.

      My AIM name was based on my obsession with the short series Blue Submarine No 6 which I’ve thought about seeking out and see if it’s as good as I remember.

      I really don’t know how to explain to people who didn’t use AIM the culture of away messages. I would try to get overly clever with my messages and definitely gleaned stuff from bash.org.

      I think not just AIM itself but the older Internet is something I miss because, effectively, no company had figured out how to make money from it and the Internet was still this separate place away from IRL. So you got lots little things to customize and all these little things to make things your own since they had to make sure their software could run on a toaster.

  3. oh WOW y’all. i started on aim young, like maybe 10 or 11? and i would change my screen name frequently for like 5 years so i had literally over 50 of them. luckily i can’t remember most of them. the one i used in high school was intoxicated_emu, which……..? i wonder how many hours i spent crafting away messages.

  4. I miss Aim! I had multiple screen names over time but I always avoided adding numbers, XxStarshynxX was one of my favorites and then my last one was thisblissisazoo (in reference to misheard lyrics from the strokes)

  5. KaeLyn, lol! Magenta Curry sounds like what happens when I try to experiment with beets in the kitchen.

    I never had AIM, but my username on message boards in the 00s was always moonstorm (based on the meanings of my first and last names). I once even bought a piece of soapstone and carved a pendant in the shape of a moon with a cloud across it cause get it, moon storm. Ha. I am not a hippie I swear

  6. ah this is the best type of sentimental!! mine was chloe101girl after the jamie lynn spears nickelodeon show zoey 101…. 11 year old me really wanted to be 13 at a palm tree filled boarding school I guess!

  7. I’m the right age range but I never did use AIM, combination of access and a bad experience but me off computers for a long time.

    When I did get an email it was a yahoo and had the word “girl” in instead of “grl” it which a IRL friend told me looked suspiciously like adult trying and failing to imitate a kid

    I dunno if this will work

    https://www.wwoz.org/topics/festing-place

    but a local radio station is doing Jazzfest in place by playing a variety of Jazzfest recordings from different years

  8. I loved AIM and was very active on AOL fashion forums. Before #ootd we would describe our daily outfit and give each other fashion tips. I hadn’t thought about this in years but it’s fascinating how in-depth we’d discuss our daily outfits. There were no photos but there were so many conversations that happened. We were fashion critics in the making! I wish I had screenshots of this :(

    My screen names were:
    Daffodil715
    Sparkles31

    <3<3<3

    • Oh wow I had FORGOTTEN about the AOL fashion boards!! I was most definitely a regular there in middle school, posting about my self-consciously zany outfits I made out of like … tablecloths and Halloween costume parts and ’70s polyester right alongside girls posting about their Juicy tracksuits and Tommy Hilfiger. (This was around the time I was also very active on a Francesca Lia Block forum, SHOCKINGLY.) I feel like there was always some kind of drama happening on those boards.

  9. By the 03 I found AIM was starting to become a liability. My friend & I were sort of catfished by someone we knew & in turn we pretended to be him & talked to his mother on AIM. He had a long talk with his parents about his behavior at slumber parties(which my friend once went to, he was being a real creep). My personal screen name was Al then my zip code/name of an inaccurate tv show. lol

  10. i’m sadly just too young for Aim and my parents had dial up til 2013 so internet options were limited lol. I did go on a lot of weird chatrooms n forums once we got computers at school, my tried and true username was “readr3004” because i read books and thought big numbers sounded cool and hacker-y. looking back i probably seemed like a middle aged librarian trying to “relate” to the youths by infiltrating beyblade discussion groups (LET IT RIP)

  11. I had about two years of AIM before Facebook became the go-to. I was smylegal first (spelled that way because I knew that people on the internet misspelled things on purpose) and then snakesmyle after I got really into reptiles.

  12. Late to the party, I know, but I always thought mine was very clever–it was spacermase, spacer being an old retro-scifi term for astronaut (I was, and am still, obsessed with space), and mase came from a shortened version of the name I went by at the time (Mason).

    I mostly used it to post song lyrics as away messages to reflect on angsty I was feeling on any given day, and have awkward conversations with girls that I was crushing on but didn’t have the nerve to actually ask out. Good times.

  13. My AOL/AIM username was BaThAcKeR. I can’t tell you how many times I had creepy dudes message me wondering if they could take a bath with me.

    BAT. HACKER. My man, get it right…

    A little backstory: In the 7th grade my best friend got one B on a report card full of As and was terrified of what her parent’s reaction would be (they were SUPER strict and, I suspect, at least emotionally abusive). Knowing that I was handy with my Macintosh Performa Power PC (aww yiss) she asked if I could possibly change the report card before she took it home that day. Because my school used those very same computers to create their report cards, it was a simple matter of recreating it on the word processor of my home ‘puter that afternoon. She got away with it, parents none the wiser, relative peace reigns.

    UNTIL a few weeks later when her parents go in for a teacher conference and the teacher mentions noticing that my friend’s grades had slipped a little. Her parents were OUTRAGED but absolutely convinced that their brilliant little girl had managed to hack into the school’s network to change the grades natively. I gave her permission to tell them it was me (in some vain hope it would take some of the heat off her), which she did, but they DIDN’T BELIEVE HER. They were so dedicated to the idea of their daughter the genius that they couldn’t fathom that she’d had help to pull off the caper.

    And so we dubbed me BAT HACKER. You know, like Batman (…middle school humor, what can I say).

    *smoke bomb, dramatic exit*

    P.S. Lemme tell you about the time my friend’s dad caught her sneaking in to see “Fear” in the theater with me, hoo boy…

  14. mine was a simple kazgrrl, a mix of my last name, being a girl, and a punk sensibility. Also, I recommend playing Emily is Away for a full-on trip down memory lane… I think it’s free on Steam.

  15. PLEASE WELCOME TO THE STAGE:

    monkeydiva2007
    a girl who knows what she likes(monkeys) and is not apologizing for it

    The0bse55or
    puberty hits and I dub myself The Obsessor because I was “obsessed” with certain attractive celebrities, namely Hayden Christensen and Orlando Bloom

    DarthMEL02
    found my place in a group of nerds even though the only reason I was into Star Wars was because of Hayden Christensen

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