It’s the “Inbox” on Facebook, and the “Direct Message” on Twitter and Instagram. It simply refers to a person’s private message box, that space away from the public eye where a friend on social media can reach you privately should they have a need to chat for business, pleasure or somewhere in between. Everyone on social media makes use of this service one way or the other. Friendships are forged, business deals are proposed and sealed, and of course romantic relationships are explored and developed. The DM is that place where friendships and relationships are made or marred. There, literally anything can happen.
The problem with this feature however is that quite a number of people have absolutely no clue how to use it to good advantage. There’s plenty of “reckless diving” and inappropriate talk in a bid to explore this special space. Today, I’m going to let you in on what I deem to be “The Rules of The DM or Inbox,” so that in the quest to initiate and sustain conversations with a person of interest, you’re doing things right, and who knows you just might get what you want either by way of business or pleasure. These are the Do’s and Don’t’s of the DM;
Write proper grammar: One of my biggest pet-peeves regarding the use of social media is when a person tries to initiate a conversation using abbreviations and slangs. What many don’t realise is that writing in short forms portrays them as unserious and immature. There’s nothing that puts any serious minded person off than a notification from a chat that reads “GM,” for example. What in the world is “GM?” Now, chronic abbreviation users will tell you it’s suppose to mean “Good Morning.” I ignore such chats anyway, because I cannot imagine anyone who had at least a high school education thinking it’s okay to start a conversation,( especially with someone you have never had any form of relationship or initial contact) with “GM” or “Sup.” It’s annoying! In chatting with anybody who isn’t your buddy, please write correct sentences. Don’t use slangs or silly abbreviations. It’s a no-no.
Have something to say: Before making an attempt to chat with anybody privately, you should have an idea of what you want to say. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s unbelievable how many people feel it’s okay to just type “Hello” and expect the recipient of the message to carry on with the conversation. Don’t bother sending a private message if you have nothing to say. It just doesn’t make any sense. And if you just wanted to say hello and give a compliment, then do so and say goodbye. Whether the person replies immediately or not, you would have created a good impression as someone who’s serious minded and not an internet loafer. And if you’re attempting to chat a love interest up, before you start asking her questions like an interviewer, introduce yourself first, please!
Don’t be a nuisance: See, it makes absolutely no sense to “camp” in someone’s inbox for several days or weeks. Don’t be one of those people who are constantly trying to start a conversation for no reason, or who constitute a pest to the other person because they granted you audience the first time. Even if you’re literally jobless, pretend otherwise. Perception is everything. It’s the reason some people appear to be snobbish, not because they think they are better than everybody else, but because their friendliness has been abused one too many times. If you’re one of those people who constantly spam other people’s inbox with broadcast messages and irrelevant information, then people are not bound to take you serious when you have something useful to say. And you really can’t blame them.
Don’t be too forward: So you initiate a chat, and the other party replies, and somehow you are able to strike a reasonably flowing conversation after a few lines. At this point, the person becomes an acquaintance and not a friend. Please do not ruin what could possibly lead to a friendship if that’s what you’re aiming for by being too forward. Asking for a phone number when you’re only just chatting with someone you have never met before for the first time is not a good idea. Making unnecessary remarks about their personality or looks could send your budding acquaintanceship on a downward spiral even before it really kicks off. Be friendly, but also be cautious of the choice of your words, and please do not pry into their private life.
Avoid asking inappropriate questions: Many are guilty of this. You have only just struck a conversation with someone new, and you immediately feel it’s alright to ask them a personal question. I have had someone ask if I am married just as soon as we exchanged pleasantries inbox. Someone I have never met. Someone who only recently became my friend on Facebook. Yes, the conversation went like this;
Him: Are you married?
…needless to say I gave the fellow a piece of mind about the inappropriateness of that question. You honestly send me a private message from nowhere just to find out if I am married? It’s absurd! Truth is, if the ignorant fellow had been a little more patient, offered some information about himself and allowed the conversation to progress naturally, there’s a good chance he’d know my marital status without having to ask. And that’s what I always tell people, many times instead of asking silly questions, just endeavour to be a good conversationalist and you’d know a few details about your subject of interest without having to ask directly.
While social media remains that platform where people can let their hair down a little, have a good laugh and forge meaningful relationships, it does not negate the fact that cautiousness and etiquette should always be a part of our lives even in the virtual community.