June 7, 2009

For years people have been telling me to stop using AOL for my personal e-mails. It's been an on-going complaint for a variety of reasons. It's out-dated, they say, and problematic. The general consensus is: no one uses AOL any more.

Nearly everyone I know is frustrated with the fact that I'm still on AOL and the question is always: "Why won't you switch?"

Here's why. I don't like change. I've been using AOL since the beginning of time and I'm attached to it. Also, on the few occasions where I have explored other options, they haven't persuaded me that switching accounts would be worth it. People say Gmail is so much better. Really? Will it answer my e-mails for me? Will it make me feel grateful to be alive? Unless it has something exceptional to offer, I don't see the point.

Changing an e-mail account might be simple, but not for me. I went to Gmail, took one look at all the steps involved, and gave up. So another reason that AOL works so well for me is because on top of not liking change, I'm lazy and impatient.

Then last week, a close friend who has been trying to wean me off AOL told me: "It's just amateur." Amateur? That got my attention. She said the image it has is that it's not web-savvy at all and that it's the e-mail address old people use.

This didn't bother me as much as it should. Maybe because I'm old. And why do I have to be savvy in every area of life? I'm savvy when it comes to diseases. Most of which I look up on the Internet - so I'm not a total Luddite.

While it's true most of my friends have deserted AOL a long time ago, I feel a bond with the people who have remained. We're part of the generation that listened to cassette tapes on a Sony Walkman. We had VCR's. And landlines. We're in a club. The 'change-is-overrated' club.

Also, at what point did people decide that who we are is the e-mail address we use? On the colossal list of things that I worry about, this concern has never been on it. Is getting an e-mail from someone on Yahoo that much sexier? No wonder people avoid me at parties.

One of the joys of being old is that it gives you an excuse to avoid change. But if you're 80 being set in your ways is acceptable. At 40, not so much. "Progress is good," my Twitter-obsessed friends say. What I worry about is it's a slippery slope. First I'm on Gmail, then the iPhone - what's next? A perfume and jewellery line?

Besides, it's not that I'm against progress, it's that I'm against change. I'm hoping that if I stick with AOL long enough, it will become hip again. Like cowboy boots.

So since my irrational devotion to AOL shows no signs of abating, I've decided to compromise. I've given in and joined Twitter. Why not. I'll try it.

But I won't enjoy it.