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You see an enticing person on the internet and you’re at a loss for words. Finding a mate in real life hasn’t been going that well so you figure a virtual courting session would be successful. But two huge hurdles separate the two of you. One is the distance and the other involves not knowing who this person is beyond their social media profile. So your options are clear but dangerous to your integrity nonetheless. You must do what many of us millennials and Generation Z’s call “sliding into their DMs.” For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s simply a comical way of privately messaging someone, with the intention of “wooing” them. Before psyching yourself out, it’s always beneficial if you weigh your options. Should your exploits be bold and grandiose to establish intent right off the bat? Or should you slowly coast into someone’s graces by leading with passive flirtation? These are the do’s and don’ts of DM-ing.

Do …

Meme it up. Memes are the gateway to people’s hearts. Using memes will alert the person you’re trying to amuse right away by showing them that you’re well-versed in the realm of comedy. For example, I’ve known many to start a conversation by sending a gif of a notable basketball player shooting a basket. This gesture is a pun that derives from dubbing the very action of making an effort in a person’s inbox as “shooting your shot.” Whether the person receiving your attempts gawks at the action or accepts it, there’s no strings attached by trying to enter a situation through comedy. Comedy softens the blow and lessens the impact of a possible rejection. Third-year political science major Antonio Ruiz says, “When I do DM, I go for a comedic approach because everyone likes to laugh no matter who they are. It’s always nice to start an interaction off with a joke.”

Keep it real. People can recognize transparency even through virtual interactions. Trying to pose as someone with the glamor of Madonna or finesse of Drake isn’t appealing to most people, not to mention that anyone can easily visit your profile in pursuit of the truth. This is why you must be comfortable with what is viewable on your social media before making any advances towards others. Many people scroll through any given social media platform and see people act more or less the same, so honing in on what makes you unique is a good way of getting into someone’s good graces. First-year creative writing major John Gutierrez says, “Honestly, I’m a broke college student who just wants some loving. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I’m cheap or anything. So I make it clear when I’m dming someone that I’m Mr. Krabs-tier cheap. They may dislike the cheap thing, but they appreciate my honesty.”

Don’t …

Be too explicit right off the bat. Asking for nudes or even mildly suggestive things automatically makes you a creep. No matter what intrinsic inhibitions are stemming from your craving to DM someone, you never want to sabotage your own integrity. That’s a very noob mistake that will have you trending the next morning with hundreds of notifications laughing at your poor attempts at communication.

Be dry. Being “dry” is essentially lacking any interesting qualities or small-talking abilities. If you’ve ever encountered someone who only texts one-word replies and responds with the same boring emojis, you know exactly who to watch out for. If you bring this type of dryness to a conversation then you will be met with the same type of energy in response.

DM-ing people doesn’t have to be complicated, and although it has become a staple of social media culture, people make it harder than it needs to be. You should model your conversations online after how you’d regard someone you’ve just met in person. Think about the etiquette you have in actual conversation and reflect that in your virtual messaging. You’ll be surprised with how far you’ll be able to enter a stranger’s world with a touch of comedy and realness.