Connecting with strangers in the age of online access.
For better or for worse, the internet-driven world we live in has given us tremendous access to almost everyone. Not only are we able to see what our exes are up to on various social platforms, but we’re also strangely connected to celebrities and various personalities through their own candid photos, thoughts and ramblings.
What’s even stranger is that we can use these social platforms to communicate with people we’ve never met. Sliding into someone's DMs (direct messages) can potentially create new connections and even potential dating opportunities. Though it’s seemingly easy to start these private chats, that doesn’t mean the interactions won’t be filled with obstacles and uncertainties.
Fear not, we’ve put together a list of what to say, how to say it and when to make a move:
Slide-in: For starters, sending any type of unsolicited message means that you have to be open to never hearing back. If that makes you uncomfortable from the start, don’t send it. Know that even when the recipient replies in a friendly manner, that doesn’t mean they’re open to continued conversation. If they’re up for it, they’ll keep it going. Have patience, be polite and use a little intuition to feel things out and follow their cues. Normally, they’ll let you know if they’re open to taking it up a notch.
Add context: Just like today’s dating apps such as Tinder or Hinge, there’s a certain subtext associated with direct messaging someone—especially out of the blue. While giving attention to another person through likes and comments is nice, taking things into the private message mode is far more direct. The whole point of DMing is to break the ice and start a more intimate conversation. Try asking a question, or making a fun comment instead of just being cordial with the usual conversation starters.
Don’t overthink it: At the end of the day, if someone is interested in you, they’ll be accepting of whatever you send. Unless you send unsolicited pictures of you know what (don’t be that person). Try to be yourself and work on connecting in a low-key, authentic way.
Be prompt: One might think it's best to not show too much interest, and let those messages linger for a while to create some mystery within the interaction. But usually, you’re just creating uncertainty and anxiety in that initial communication pattern. If you really want to start something, be sure to follow up in a timely manner.
Be genuine: Try to offer some context to discuss why you’ve reached out. Make the conversation feel organic and realistic. It’s easier to connect with someone online if you’re able to find common ground. Comment on something that you find intriguing, or something that interests both of you to create a real conversation.
Take it offline: Meeting face-to-face is the best way to know if there’s really a connection. If things are going well and there’s a way to move the conversation offline, go for it. Mention a new restaurant or an art exhibition—find something you both seem into, and suggest that you go experience that together. Sometimes all it takes is a simple DM.