The social phenomenon that is AOL Instant Messenger is bizarre and unnerving. Never before has there been – and there probably never will be again – a software program that harnesses the oxymoronic convivial ennui of such a generation as ours. Utilized by so many, depended upon even, like some sort of sick narcotic, students every day wake up to get their fix of humorous away messages or overdone “SubProfiles.”

You really would have to be living under a rock to be in college and not know what AOL Instant Messenger is. Consequentially, I refuse to waste a paragraph explaining it. If you don’t understand, then just stop reading. Now.

Perhaps it is a mark of the average student’s dependency on AIM that earlier in the year, when Internet connections in residence halls were not able to connect to the AIM servers, there was as close to a student rebellion at this university than there probably ever has been. People just didn’t know what to do without it – I myself actually had to blow the dust off my phone and use it! Pure ludicrity!

Sometimes I try to think what life was like for people before AIM. In this age of pinhead sized microchips and gene therapy, asking such a question is akin to wondering what life was like for primitives before the wheel. All that’s missing is a booming recording of Also Sprach Zarathustra playing in the background.

I don’t mean to really bash AIM, I probably use it as much as anyone. Its benefits are many and valuable. It certainly cuts down on my phone bill when I can issue missives to my family members via this splendid program rather than relying on Ma-Bell. There’s also a certain non-intrusiveness to AIM that you can’t get on a phone. When taking a nap, the bleating ringing of a phone waking you up from a pleasant slumber is offensive and wrath-incurring, half the time its one of your roommate’s odious acquaintances.

But who can be angry at that splendid bubbly sound when someone IMs you? “Someone wants to talk to me!” it screams. “To me!”

OK, so maybe that’s a little overboard. But I don’t think anyone can quibble with the fact that AIM is some sort of Gen X juggernaut, rumbling relentlessly towards complete and utter global domination like Louie Anderson staggering towards the donut cart on the set of “Family Feud.” This is a revolution, a paradigm shift of the most epic proportions, norm-shattering in its significance and scope. And the whole time nobody is thinking of the children, the millions of kids left behind in this whole thing, orphans of the Space Age, parentless pods debauched at the will of heartless monsters like Rupert Murdoch and Alexander Haig, kids who will never know what it was like before all this, who will never know what it was like to live in a society, a community, a civilization! We are all living in the bad district, associated with a lower class of people. We’re poor, sniveling guttersnipes preying on one another for sustenance and well-being, obsessed with neo-capitalistic slogans of “Come and play, come and play!” all the while forgetting about any real movement. Oh well, someone just IMed me, I should really get back to them…

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