Why I'm Celebrating 20 Years with AOL


By Rachel Hadley

I’m celebrating a pretty big anniversary this week. On March 28, 1995, I officially joined America Online and my life changed completely. 

What a blast from the past! 20 years later, I can’t help but think about all of the things that AOL taught me that still ring true in social media today:

People love mail.

Remember how excited you used to get when you’d hear those three simple words?  You’ve got mail! Email is easy, but it can be hard to cut through the clutter. Make sure you have a strong subject line. Don’t copy too many people, or you’ll go to spam!

The value of a chat.

GChat functionality is basically the same thing that AOL had 20 years ago! Life is easier knowing that someone is on the other end and can communicate instantly. Choosing the best communication is very important, and sometimes a simple “instant message” is the best way to go.

It’s a small world after all.

It started with air travel. Then came the Internet, then social media. The world continues to shrink.The first month I spent using America Online, I was in chat rooms with other high school students on the opposite side of the U.S.


Screen names matter.

We all have at least one friend with a kitschy screen name. It’s fine to use it for personal reasons, but make sure you have something more professional for social networks and for your personal (job-seeking) email account. 

Efficiency is key.

Despite years of typing classes, it wasn’t until I joined AOL that I really learned how to type quickly. (People would drop out of chats if you took too long.) Also, keep messages brief. Oftentimes, the most engaging posts are kept short. So with that, I will end this blog.

What was your first screen name? Tell me in the comments below!