Man, this coronavirus crisis takes me back; and if you’re a millennial like myself, it’s probably making you relive the days of AOL Instant Messenger, which by the way has been shut down. This might be the reason Millennials are having a little bit of an easier time being quarantined, or “safer at home’d” than Gen Z spring breakers. See, while we both can interact with each other and spend way too much time on digital devices, at the end of the day Gen Z needs to go out into the world and find a neat place to Tik Tok from. On the other hand, millennials like myself on the more, Myspace-age-bracket, grew up doing exactly what our jobs are asking of us now, sitting down at our computer and getting stuff done through messaging. Of course, by “getting stuff done” I mean occasionally homework, but mostly just chatting with our buddy list.
“If someone was your buddy, you were equals – there was no ranking…”
See, back then there were two kinds of people in my life, those who were my “buddies” and everyone else. They weren’t “friends” or “followers” there was no status implication to the designation. Some of my buddies were friends, some were family, some were classmates, and one was a notoriously impish robot named “Smarterchild.” I feel like we’re rediscovering buddy-dom through the work-from-home apps currently pulling the brunt of the load like Microsft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Slack. If someone was your buddy, you were equals – there was no ranking like there is now with followers, influencers and “friends.” That’s how I feel about my coworkers, and broadly speaking the entire world – because we’re all in this crisis together, as equals.
The severity of the current environment actually ads to it and has reimposed the personal touch AIM used to have that the trolls destroyed. As we’re quarantined, not only are we broadcasting from our intimate spaces at home, but most meetings start with affirmations, well-being check-ins and just that little bit of empathy. Sure, occasionally someone will overshare or bring a productive meeting to a grinding halt with a soul-draining diatribe about the dire state of the market and its effects on our bottom line, but at least we’re getting back a little of that familiar warmth from signing into AIM and seeing my friends on the buddy list.
I know it’s a scary time to live in, and uncertainty lingers in the air like a distant troubling sniffle at the supermarket, but I truly believe we’ll all come out of this with at least a tiny bit more appreciation for each other. If you’re also feeling AIM nostalgia, comment below how you’re dealing with all this!