She calls them “disruptors.” When I ask her what the disruptors do, she says, “If you were reading Garden Chat right now, you would see. That’s not fun.”Bird misses the days when people would talk about growing annuals and perennials.
Also popular, a chatroom for Republicans, along with chatrooms called Beliefs Christian and Born Again.
User-created sexual fantasy rooms are also popular.
She’s used chatrooms for the past 16 years, ever since her kids introduced her to AOL.
While her children don’t use AOL anymore, she’s kept it up.
It’s incredibly difficult to even use the chatrooms, because you need AOL Desktop, a free program that when downloaded, feels like a glimpse back into the days of dial-up. And, just like in the 1990s, people looking for sex. She’s 72, and in her free time, she likes making miniature scenes and working in her garden.
Now primarily a digital media company, AOL — it owns about them: the company refused to make anyone available for this story. But when she has about an hour, she’ll log on to chat.
“Auditorium” chatrooms could hold hundreds or thousands of users and had a moderator.
Users could also create private and public chatrooms and host scheduled events.
Initially, mostly tech-minded people joined AOL chatrooms, since at the time, it wasn’t as common to own a home computer.
Forums on the Apple II, Macintosh, PC, software development, and gaming were popular.
“It was a different time, because in the ‘90s, no one gave their real personal information on the internet,” says the now 35-year-old web developer.