A eulogy for the old Yahoo! Messenger
For Filipinos of a certain age, reading recent news bits of the good-ol’ Yahoo! Messenger (YM) ceasing its operations felt like the death of a dear, childhood friend.
The Instant Messenger (IM) client/application had its heyday in the late 1990’s to mid-2000’s, a period that, for me, bridged high school and college days.
It was a period where Facebook, smartphones, and apps did not exist or were in their infancy stages. The best way to extend the social relationships we had in campus then was through nightly one-on-one or group YM conversations. Acquaintances evolved into friendships, and for the lucky ones like myself, some friendships developed into romantic relationships.
YM was not only a tool for communication but also a medium that replaced the old-fashioned phone telebabad, exchange of love letters, and even allowed collaborative activities. With the advent of apps and services like FB Messenger, Line, Viber, and Whatsapp, most Filipinos have either abandoned or simply outgrew the less sexy features of Yahoo’s messaging service.
So in memory of our old, slightly forgotten, soon-to-be retired friend, Yahoo Messenger, here are a few of its features that have endeared it to thousands, if not millions of Filipinos like me.
One of the initial options when logging into the YM application is the “Sign in as invisible to everyone” choice.
Whether you want to log in and not be disturbed by anyone, or engage in “stalker” mode, being invisible to everyone (all contacts are italicized) gives one the power to unilaterally initiate the conversation or check if a crush or person of interest is online or not.
Online Status with hyperlinks
Aside from the usual status like available or busy, users can also customize their status to their liking. Phrases like “went to the CR”, “Do not disturb”, and even quotes and famous sayings were popularly used then.
Links to one’s status can also be added so that when someone clicks your status, a link to a blog or webpage will be opened in a new browser.
Crush is ignoring you? Buzz! Schoolmate or project mate idling and wasting your time? Buzz! Too much time in between conversations, or stuck in an awkward moment? Buzz!
It’s a wonder why the messaging apps of today doesn’t have the Ctrl + G (or exclamation point icon) feature of YM.
In those days, one would rarely one find proper usernames for Yahoo accounts.
Without divulging specific usernames of friends, it was likely that usernames were either derived from fairy tales, cartoons, anime, or whatever us teens were into those days, plus a favorite number or birthday.
Digital representations in the form of avatars were way cooler and hipper compared to using one’s actual image.
You could customize not only the physical appearance (face, hair, skin tone, etc.) of your avatar but also the clothes and accessories and even the background and venue your avatar was in.
It was not uncommon to see a profile picture of someone with an avatar wearing a tank top and shorts while on the beach.
Before tabs became fashionable, early versions of YM only allowed one conversation per window. Opening multiple windows was actually an advantage if you needed to manage several conversations conveniently.
Themes and customization
The messaging apps of today do not have the breath of customization options that YM gave its faithful users.
From different colored skins, default font family, size, and color, to compact/detail view option, one user’s YM application appearance definitely looks far different from the next.
Doodles, IM environments, and other activities
Never mind if they were productive or gave users anything more than entertainment but doodles, IMvironments, games, and other activities made YM interactive and fun for the countless of hours we spent our prepaid Internet loads on (DSL was not widely spread then).
With Yahoo’s old Messenger service about to end on August 5, there are still a couple of months left to download, and spend an hour or two reminiscing a dear old friend. I downloaded the latest version, and to no surprise, none of my contacts were online. Some features like IMvironment and activities no longer function properly, and tabbed conversations have replaced the multiple windows.
Words cannot express how grateful a generation of Filipinos are to the Yahoo! Messenger and the team behind it. YM may be gone in a few weeks, but the countless archived conversations and memories will never be forgotten. – Rappler.com