(First published on Viva Naija in July 2016)
So you come across this individual on whichever social media platform (there are lots of them these days, you’re yet to get a grip of one app and another one pops up). Said individual is smart, witty, unique perspective, and a great sense of humour. The confidence they exude is seductive, their posts and updates always resonate with you. Sure, it’s easy to be a genius from the front end of the phone keypad. Access to Google ensures this, but at least one should find the persona appealing.
Or they are simply attractive in a crotch-bulging way. Hot enough to wish you’d doze off beside them on a regular basis.
Whatever the case, you want to interact with this ‘awesome’ person, get more acquainted, all that good stuff. But you don’t know how to go about it. You pace up and down the corridors of their inbox (or DM as the case may be) day after day, unsure of how to execute the perfect crash-in.
Unsure of what reaction you’d get, you trudge away slowly and continue living out your drab digital existence. Or like a high school kid who’s too shy to approach the teacher he’s having a crush on, you drop a “hi” typed with the edge of your thumb and quickly climb out of the walls of their inbox.
Yeah, there is this thing with taking the whole social media relationship beyond likes, comments, follows and retweets. A slide into someone’s message space suggests a move into personal territory. It hints at a desire to get more comfortable, something in the tone of “enough of running into you on the street, let me inside the house for a bit.”
This whole sliding tackle phenomenon has always whipped up divided opinion. We’ve seen amazing love stories that began when someone was bold enough to send the first DM, we’ve had mad business deals closed in a brief chat.
Unfortunately, we’ve also found that some of those talented people whose posts you lived for were total douche-bags in real life, and that the “aspiring model” who sent you semi-nudes is actually a male undergraduate who lives in Oshodi with three laptops. Catfish is a real and present danger, but we must not digress.
Pros and cons are not the reason for this post. I am here to guide you on how to negotiate the slippery landscape of that inbox you want to slide into so badly I can taste the desire from here, and while these tips are neither set in stone nor guaranteed of gender balance, they should keep you above ground.
Rules of the Inbox Slide and Tackle
1. Play it cool, bro
First off, do not be so quick to send a message just after you had your friend request accepted (yes, we know it was you who did the sending, you were desperate like that). Not even all those “thanks for accepting me” messages. No! NOO!!! They paint you like a lonely puppy in dire need of a cuddle. And no, it’s not courtesy! It’s just…I don’t know. Just don’t do it. And as for those people who post their gratitude directly on the timeline, the less said, the better.
2. Watch yo’ grammar!
Next up, watch your grammar and punctuation. This isn’t 2009 anymore, this is the age of intellectuals and human dictionaries. The age where an argument can be won or lost by one grammatical blunder. Unless the ‘slidee’ seems okay with it, on no account must you type in shorthand. Mate, this is the era of the Grammar Nazis. Some are strict with capitalisation too. Look, it’s a hard life in these digital streets, I know, but shey na you wan slide?
3. Don’t get catfished
Beyond that, carry out your due diligence before proceeding to lunge deep. If, in particular, your ultimate aim is a weekend rendezvous at your poorly furnished apartment (there is no definition for ‘noble intentions’ these days), this is really important.
You can’t be caught off guard in a world where filters and photo edit enjoy full endorsement. The profile picture doesn’t reveal everything. Probe, dear slider, probe!! There have been too many cases of people who looked nothing like their photos, and the disappointed party needing drinks to create a semblance in his head.
4. “Say something or I’m giving up on you”
Again, cut down on the small talk. The world is getting older and colder. There are busier people with shorter attention spans, and no one wants to go back and forth with “hello” and “how was your day” like it’s table tennis.
Yeah, the urge to be cool has made it easier to dispense with basic conversational courtesy, but get with the programme. If you’ve got nothing much to say beyond pleasantries, wait until the appointed time.
5. “Understand the target, Mr Bond”
Another important thing to watch as you crawl along the walls of that inbox is to check out the timeline regularly. I know, it sounds like you’re stalking, but you have to know the nature of the terrain before you take a plunge. If you are sliding into a feminist’s DM, check your timeline. You may want to take down all your “don’t marry a woman who can’t cook” tweets and status updates. Plus, you need to watch your timing. Do not try to chat up said feminist when a woman just got killed by her husband. And especially NOT if she has gone ahead to post an angry essay about it.
Furthermore, know the kind of individual you intend to chat up. This is still related to due diligence but it goes further. Is she the type that uploads screenshots of corny messages? Does she throw shade and subtle digs at guys, based on every flimsy “hi, i’d luv 2 knw u”? Does he recreate everything a lady tells him in confidence as “fiction”?
Do you really want to become a DM casualty? If your ego is the size of Banky W’s head and soft as a balloon at the same time, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to further interact with such leaky keypads.
With these few points of mine, I hope I have been able to convince and not confuse…oh sorry, this is not a debate. In any case, there are really no statutes or constitutions to these things, so here’s to smooth sliding tackles!