Back in the days before most of my friends were on Facebook, we were on Bebo, and while they were very similar Bebo did not have a chat system built in.
So instead we used MSN Messenger. In some ways those were the glory days of the internet for me. Some of my closest friendships now were solidified through MSN in it’s heyday.
There were silly animated gifs, and emoticons, you could have different backgrounds to your conversations with different people, I’d talk to Alison and it would be a background of Lavender, Nadia and it would be autumn trees. It was aesthetically pleasing and nicer than anything we have now. A chat system that was just that, a chat system.
So many evenings passed in wars of gifs and nudge wars (Yes, nudge wars were the predecessors to poke wars for those who were not there and do not remember), and others passed in hours of utterly important gossip, news, scandal. I had a relationship that was based mainly on a mutual love of R.E.M. and took place almost entirely on MSN, and I know I’m nowhere near the only one of my friends who did.
It was a procrastination station, there is no denying that, there were hours I spent playing solitaire or pinball, while waiting for someone, anyone to log in. But it was never as bad as Facebook, on MSN when you had a conversation you were having a conversation, that was why you were there. There were greetings (Or in some special cases, immediate exclamations of gossip) and there were goodbyes, there was an intention and an attentiveness to the conversation that isn’t really present anymore.
I kept the majority of my MSN conversations, the logs were saved and they’ve come through four different computers with me. I wouldn’t (Or couldn’t) look at them now, seeing as most of them come from when I was about 14 or 15, but they’re a part of my life that I want to keep around, even if they just sit there unread. Also potential leverage against oh so many of my friends!
Somewhere in about 2009 there was a mass exodus. I think that the system broke down a bit, but the main issue was that everyone slowly started siphoning their time into Facebook more and more. I remember being one of the last people to leave, I remember logging in most evenings to a empty graveyard of offline users, until eventually MSN crashed on me and I didn’t bother to try and update or fix it.
I miss MSN, I know I’m not the only one who does, most people I know have lots of good memories attached and wish for it back.
I miss you MSN.
Maybe I can make Skype as fun…