I generally keep the volume on my work computer on mute, only turning it on when my career calls for it (i.e., to view an important video announcement from my capo di tutti capi, Rupert Murdoch, or the YouTube video of the sneezing panda, etc.). However, sometimes I forget to turn the volume down again, and this has, on occasion, led to the embarrassment of “You’ve got mail!” being shouted by my computer at the entire office.
That’s right; I still use AOL as my personal email provider. I know. I can feel you looking at me with pity, thinking, “Oh my God, what century does this guy come from?” (The same one as Buster Keaton.)
Lest you think this is all in my head—that no one would judge another person based on their choice of email address—let me tell you that Molly Birckhead, digital marketing manager at HarperOne—and who thought that would be a job title back in 1998, when Tom Hanks, playing the role of a top executive in a bookstore chain that looked an awful lot like Borders—remember Borders?—was wooing Meg Ryan in the movie You’ve Got Mail—(Where was I going with this? Oh yes!)—Molly, upon hearing my work computer shout “You’ve got mail,” actually got up from her desk and walked over to my office—in person, no less—to ask me, “Are you still using AOL?” She said this not so much with disgust (though there was a little in her voice) as amazement.
You’ve got mail. The phrase, once so ubiquitous that they made a movie out of it, now sounds old and quaint, like “twenty-three skidoo” and “what up, dog?”
I have long been embarrassed by my use of AOL. My friends and relatives kept changing their addresses to fancy, newfangled ones like gmail and hotmail. My son Daniel and daughter Laura have had more email addresses in the last few years then a small Balkan nation.
I’ve begun to rethink this AOL thing. Maybe I’m getting so out of date that I am becoming cool, something like Johnny Cash. I mean, I’m a guy who takes the harmonica seriously. I have never been cool. Why not capitalize on this fact?
Therefore I am here today to proclaim, yes, I am an AOL user, I’ve got mail, and I’m damn proud of it. To anticipate any questions, yes, I like the advertising. I think being an AOL user is so old that it’s new again. It’s retro, dog.
When I said this to Molly she had a suggestion: why not start a Facebook group called “We Still Use AOL.” This is a really great, social-media-savvy idea—the kind of thing that Molly knows inside and out—and I think it is a great plan, only I am too retro to be bothered. But someone ought to do it.