The email was a nice one, from a guy living somewhere up North, I think. He was writing to say that he liked my weekly column, which was awfully kind of him. And then I read the last sentence: BTW, love that you and my Granddad are the only ones still using AOL! Loyalty is undervalued these days!
I had never once thought about the fact that I have kept the same email address for 15 years. Its on my business cards and website, and, besides, how else would all those nice people who want my penis to be larger ever find me?
It never dawned on me that my aol.com was archaic. Something that only a nice young mans granddad would use.
So I asked a couple of friends: Am I the only person still using AOL?
They looked nervously at one another before answering.
We didnt know how to tell you, said one. The other just hung her head.
But why? Why did everybody leave AOL and why didnt anyone tell me?
They didnt really know why, although there was some mention of how they never knew how to bring it up with me. There, apparently, had been talk of an intervention just like on that show where the redneck families sit in a circle and confront Misti Dawn about her meth problem before shipping her off to somewhere with palms. Yeah, just like that.
I asked Google why everyone (but me and that guys granddad) had left AOL and discovered a couple of articles that described AOL as like the CBS evening news, an icon from another age that serves an aging and declining audience.
What the WHAT?!?!?
Another article said, AOL is for people under 8 and over 80. I still couldnt figure out why, though. Not being a techie, I didnt really understand the complaints. AOL does what I ask it to: delivers the mail in a timely fashion and offers a decent home page that, while a little heavy on designed-to-titillate headlines like: Wow! See Jennifer Anistons breasts on vacation! (Dont they usually travel with her?) is generally useful and informative.
Also, its free. This is something that seems to confuse some people.
There are, I read, a small tribe of 4 million or so who continue to pay for the service even though they havent had to for many, many years.
They are like Internet aborigines, I suppose.
I havent paid for AOL in a very long time. Not since the last time I saw the little yellow stick man race across the screen during the dial-up days. (My throat-killing imitation of the sound of dial-up used to be a much-in-demand party trick back in the day, since you ask.)
My friends all have Gmail, Yahoo, hotmail and a bunch of other much cooler Internet addresses. But Ive got 580 business cards left. Until then, well, get off my lawn.