My AOL Instant Messenger Girlfriend and I Revisit 1999

Categories: Nostalgia

YouTube Screen Capture
How We Talked on AIM in 1999

As anyone with a calendar will tell you, the summer of 1999 was 15 years ago. It was a time of Blair Witch hysteria, Jar Jar Binks alienating a generation and the music industry becoming bigger than ever. But while TRL was establishing itself as a tastemaker, there were tweens like me who watched the full 24 hours that MTV had to offer, as well as spending every waking moment trying to absorb as much music as possible. Thanks to the internet, that was becoming easier. 

See also: I Won an Evangelical Christian Rap Battle

There weren't many kids in my school who shared my passion, so I took to the internet. One Wednesday afternoon in June, my mouse wandered into the AOL Music Chatroom and that's where I met Mary Lamb.

It's likely Mary and I connected because, in a sea of a/s/l a/s/l requests, were we both actively trying to see if anyone else caught The Living End's "Prisoner of Society" video on last Sunday's 120 Minutes. From there we took it to Instant Messenger and "dated" as much as two pre-teens who live 1,300 miles away could have a "Relationship." We wound up talking for about 18 months or so until changing screen names caused us to drift apart.


Imagine my surprise last summer when, while at a party, I received a tweet out of nowhere from someone claiming I was their "internet boyfriend." I was relieved and excited that it was Mary, both because 1) I remembered how cool she was and 2) I had further confirmation those conversations spent online in my youth were actually with someone my age and not a degenerate's elaborate catfish.


The internet's a much different place to trade music in 2014. While Mary and I used to attempt to impress each other via linking to different 30 second Realplayer streams at (Napster was still a year away), today we can instantly share high quality YouTube streams. In celebration of music being more accessible than ever, Mary and I decided to party like it's 1999 and share what today would be our three favorite selections from that outrageous year.

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