Coronavirus dating tips: The power of direct messages | #facebookdating | #tinder | #pof

You don’t exist unless you have at least two forms of social media.

Be it Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — pick your poison, because you’ll have to drink from some form of social liquor. Don’t get me started on the messaging apps we have: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, GroupMe, Instagram Messenger, KaKaoTalk, and of course good ol’ SMS.

Access has become so easy. And maybe in today’s coronavirus climate, that’s a good thing.

What once felt like a Herculean task, working up the courage to put yourself out there and ask someone for a date and risk (God forbid) rejection, is a pastime the kids of Generation Z will never understand.

How easy it is for people to shoot a quick “hey” and start a conversation that flows faster than sap from a tree. You don’t have to say a word to each other face to face, bypassing the need to interact in person altogether by using some form of instant messaging.

See, kids, back in the day we had this messaging app on our computer called AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) for which we rushed home after school, scarfed down dinner, finished our homework, then sat in front of our clunky desktop computer waiting for the loud clanging to connect to the internet in order to chat with our friends, who also had to be sitting in front of their computer.

Now it’s all at the tip of our fingers, wherever we are.

Which leads me to my story of a guy sliding into my DMs. (For those of you who don’t exist — on social media, that is — think of DMs, or direct messages, as yet another access point for people to connect with each other through a social media app, such as Instagram.)

To paint the backdrop, I sat in my seat looking out the smudged airplane window ready to fly out of LAX on a recent Friday night. (Coronavirus wasn’t yet a thing to worry about.)

While I waited for takeoff, I whipped out my phone and thumbed my way straight to Instagram, flipping through my feed to see the latest posts and check out yet more pictures of my friends’ babies. Since I feel like I must keep my followers (all 400 of them) clued in to the ever exciting life of moi, I decided to post a selfie.

Snap.

Add filter.

Write an enticing statement meant to stimulate engagement: “Guess where I’m flying to tonight?”

And wait.

Buzz, buzz.

A red notification in my Instagram inbox appeared, telling me that someone had DM’d me.

With a smug grin, I clicked on my inbox wondering who got baited into responding because, let’s face it, if you’re posting a selfie, you definitely want the guy you’ve been crushing on to see it.

It was … D?

I was surprised he’d messaged me because he is usually quite shy and has never once responded to my Instagram stories. He also recently moved to New York to pursue a career in computer coding. It was 8:30 p.m. L.A. time and 11:30 p.m. in New York, which meant he was probably just getting his night started.

D: Where you headed?

I told him I was flying up to San Francisco for the weekend. I asked him how he was liking New York City. Adjusting, he said.

More chatting ensued. Just as the flight attendant was making her announcement to turn off electronic devices or put them in airplane mode, D dropped a surprise.

(By the way, I was pretty sure D was fully inebriated at this point. Surprisingly, he did not have any typos, but based on the rapid-fire back-and-forth conversation we were having, my Spidey senses were telling me he’d had a lot of liquid courage to muster up the bravery to talk so freely to me.)

Finally, with only seconds to spare as I tell him I have to turn off my phone so the pilot can fly this plane, he said …

D: Ok, I’m drunk. I think at this point I can admit …

D: You’re very cute and attractive

D: Such a catch!

I was shooketh.

This was coming outta … where? I never would have thought in a million years that D even liked me, let alone thought he was interested in me. Why, you ask? In the last three years I’ve known him he …

… had never initiated conversation with me.

He never said hi to me first.

He was also six years younger.

I didn’t know what to reply.

But then it dawned on me. During all our interactions, he did seem a bit nervous. Being the gregarious one, I always tried to make conversation with him, asking how his day was, how he liked living in L.A., how work was and so on. He always gave me curt answers that didn’t leave much room for a follow-up.

So I naturally assumed he didn’t really fancy me, even as a friend. He was also an engineer. (Sorry to say, but in my experience, engineers aren’t typically known for being the most socially savvy people alive.)

It all made sense, like when Neo finally understood the Matrix. The 1s and 0s were all aligning.

He was like one of those high school nerds who was too shy to ever act on his feelings, so when the girl he liked was close, he’d clam up and act weird because he didn’t know what else to do when his crush was within arm’s length.

I had a big fat smile on my face as the flight attendant came to my row and gave me my final warning.

I responded to D with a smiley-face emoji, shut down my cell and sat back, that smile still on my face.

The author is a full-time attorney and an Instagram makeup artist on the side: @VictoriaShinBeauty

Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.

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