Are you reluctant to share your age? Are you reluctant to share your email address? If you answered “yes” to the first question, and “no” to the second, and are an AOL user, you’re screwed!
According to the popular wisdom proffered by millennials and beyond, if AOL appears after the @, you are fat, over 80, a technology dinosaur, live in the suburbs, and probably have bad breath. (I didn’t actually read about the last one; I just threw it in.)
Furthermore, those brats claim that AOL users are clinging to an antique, are stuck in the 90s, and should never be taken seriously. About anything. Because we are blithering idiots.
And if you’re looking for a job, don’t dare indicate on your resume that AOL is your email account or you’ll never get your foot in the door. Which isn’t very relevant anyway if, in fact, you’re over 80, and applying to work at Home Depot.
Back in the day, if you wanted an email account and the ability to access the internet, America on Line (became AOL in 1991) was the major player. Their disk packages were everywhere, free for the taking. So we took. It was easy to set up an account, and soon the little yellow man was running across the computer screen, assuring you that your dial-up was working.
That’s when I began using AOL. I did have a free Hot Mail account for a while, but at the time, true to its name, it flooded my inbox with enticing ads for penile implants, pills that would enhance my sexual prowess, ways to meet hot babes, and phone numbers to call if I was interested in a three-way, in any combination of my choice. Eventually Hot Mail left me cold.
Despite the fact that AOL email shaming is rampant, I refuse to be intimidated. So to people who say, “Why do you still use AOL?” I say, “Why not?”
If something has been working for you for 20 years, why give it up? Why go through the trouble of changing, which involves contacting every single person and entity that you know or have been doing business with for two decades? AOL has good security, adequate storage, spam protection, I like the interface, and I can access mail on all of my other devices. Do I really need more? If someone invents an email account that vacuums the rug and washes windows, I might consider switching.
So what if I’m accused of being stuck in the 90s? What was so bad about the 90s and so good now? Some wonderful things happened in the 90s. Like the debut of the original Law and Order on TV. Seinfeld was hot and so were the Sopranos. It was the heyday of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Bill Clinton redefined having sex, and boom boxes were replaced by the Walkman. (Okay, so we also had Celine Dion, Beanie Babies, and the Macarena, but you can’t have everything.) And best of all, the world did not come to an end with Y2K.
And yes, I am very much aware that cooler alternatives to AOL do exist, like the very popular gmail. But I find Google so pushy. They always want to know where I am, and are constantly offering to store my passwords. Frankly, I think they’re up to something. And what makes Google so cool anyway? Big deal that everyone shows up for work wearing T-shirts.
And then there’s Yahoo. But do I really want an email address that has the resonance of a drunken cowboy slapping his horse?
Therefore, for now, I will stand up to the derision, keep my AOL, and will continue to take comfort from that disembodied, but very familiar voice informing me that I’ve got mail.
But I can foresee a time in the future, perhaps when I go to meet my maker, that I may finally have to switch. Because in heaven, the only choice could very well be the Cloud.
(This essay is dedicated to my special friend, Penny, who provided the inspiration.)