Get ready to toe that fine line between nostalgia and mortification, because today we're going to explore away messages you definitely used in the '90s. And by you, I clearly mean me. I'll be the first to admit that I was the queen of AIM back in the day. The very sight of that little yellow running man icon or the tell-tale sound of a digital door opening floods me with memories of crafting what I believed to be witty little away sentiments under one of the many ridiculous screen names I rocked during that decade (CactusJane? Verboden Slyph??). C'mon, don't tell me you didn't, too.
Really, AIM was cutting-edge technology at the time. It essentially served as our training wheels for Snapchat. So, regardless of how silly our lingo and elaborate handles back then seem now, it doesn't change that it was the social media of choice at the time — all the cool kids were doing it. And although it has since been made all but obsolete by other more modern platforms, it's fun to look back on the days when the hardest part of creating an online profile was deciding which color to make your Comic Sans.
In that spirit, come ROFL with me as we take a look at nine classic away messages from yesteryear, with a little help from the hilarious @YourAwayMessage Twitter account.
1. The Cryptic Quote
I don't think any '90s kid made it out of the decade without at least one away message that read "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened" or "LiFe'S nOt AbOuT tHe BrEaThS wE tAkE, bUt ThE mOmEnTs ThAt TaKe OuR bReAtH aWaY." Clearly, we had a lot of time on our hands, because painstaking typing in alternative upper and lower case is incredibly time-consuming.
2. The Attention Troll
This was the default away message whenever you weren't actually away but were more than likely staring at your screen waiting for your crush from third period to log on. It looked a lot like "Bored as a mofo, someone IM me!" Or there was the more passive aggressive variety, like "So mad right now! Don't IM me," that, while screaming "Don't talk to me," obviously meant "IM me right this very second so I can vent."
3. The In Love 4 Lyfe Reminder
Consider it the '90s equivalent of shouting your love from a mountaintop — there was no better way to alert the world to the fact that you had the best BF or GF ever was to "tag" them in your away message, i.e. "ily Matthew <3 3/9/1999 - forever." Of course, that message very likely changed at least three times a semester to something along the lines of "heartbroken </3 Matthew" ... at least until you could reconcile and re-tape his picture back up in your locker alongside Jared Leto's.
4. The Can't-Go-5-Minutes-Without-An-Away-Message Message
You know the type. "Brb, showering" or "Brb 1 min" (followed shortly after with "K, back"), because you obviously couldn't have anyone wondering about the lag time in response when you left the room for more than a fraction of a minute.
5. The Shout-Out
This was either literally a shout-out — like above — or it was a shout-out of the "I'm so popular, see?" variety. That looked a lot like, "Girlz night with my BFFS! Luv you SB, SS, AW, AB, MHC, KM, KL, and all my other laydeez. You know who you are!" I mean, considering how often you changed your away message, you didn't want people to get the wrong impressions that perhaps you spent your evenings coming up with ways to let everyone know you were away.
6. The Emotional Outlet
Can anything hold a candle to the melodrama of '90s teen girls? Doubtful! We had our emotional wellspring on tap. It's only natural, then, that this often bubbled over into our away messages with angsty sentiments such as "wurst day ever!!! everything sux, and i hate my life!!" This would, of course, be accompanied by an appropriately morose emoji crying his or her ever-loving pixelated eyes out.
7. The Inside Joke
If you were ever guilty of pulling this away message stunt, raise your right hand and say "I." Me: I! Ugh, I feel certain this was one of my favorite forms of away message. Because I was so kewl, obvi. And because, "His eyelid? Gross!" will forever be funny to me and my '90s girl tribe. So, yeah, still apparently guilty of this one.
8. The Big Diss
We '90s kids knew that the only way to deal with confrontation was by facing it head-on. We also apparently knew that facing it head-on was code for directing our away messages at the haters. Ooh, burn! This might read "Why are u reading my status AGAIN, Tiffany? Lolol. Get a lyfe!" It was the proverbial "Bye, Felicia" before "Bye, Felicia" was a thing.
9. The Song Lyric
Real talk: This was by far my favorite away message. It was pretty genius, after all. There is literally a lyric for anything you are feeling at any given time, it shows you are both hip and brooding, and it takes the guesswork out of coming up with something deep and witty in equal measure. Besides, '90s music was rife with ideal away message material. Exhibit A? "I'm not dead, and I'm not for sale."