PULP STORYTIME: “I dm’d a hot basketball player. It backfired. Severely.”
While all my friends were off galavanting across the globe this summer, I was at home. Doing nothing interesting. I felt I needed to do something worthy of gossiping over an iced almond latte at Courtyard first week back. This was the best I could come up with. A social science experiment, of sorts.
You see, a few months ago, I decided I liked the look and profile of a guy, James* I came across on Instagram. James is not an Insta celeb. He doesn’t have a hugely impressive follower count and seems pretty normal, apart from the fact that he is an elite sportsman in Sydney.
So I followed him. And surprisingly, he followed back.
Fast forward a few months, and I have no exciting news to tell my friends once they return from abroad, I decided, it might be a good idea to ~slide~ into James’s DMs. It’s worth mentioning at this point that I am a very rational person, very level-headed and arguably the MOST boring person in my friend group when it comes to dating. Any type of rash behaviour is completely unlike me.
But in order to successfully message James, I needed support. So I consulted said friends to see if they thought said DM-sliding was a good idea. Of course, they did (in hindsight they were probably thirsty and thought agreeing to my idea would be the shortest path to tea). After many encouraging words, they helped draft a suitably ‘I-am-not-a-weirdo' message and selected the most appropriate emojis. When finished, there was no going back, as they were demanding screenshots of the ensuing repartee.
We decided since earlier that day I had attended a game his team played, sending a message relating to that was the best option. The message was harmless, friendly but more importantly, ready to be sent.
My higher-order reasoning skills had officially made themselves scarce while I copied and pasted my practised message from notes to Instagram. I sent it.
I waited, trying to distract myself by watching old episodes of Gossip Girl. One episode later, James responded.
I was shocked. Because if I was being one-hundred percent honest with myself, I wasn’t expecting a reply. Like, at all and let alone one of equal friendliness to mine.
Thus begins our awkward exchange of very polite messages. Don’t get me wrong, polite is nice and everything. Just not an overly ‘maybe-we-should-take-this-convo-offline’ sorta vibe.
James never asked me anything. If I wanted to keep this conversation going (which I did) I had to keep coming up with things to ask him that didn’t sound too forced. And going straight into a round of 21 questions didn’t exactly seem the most appropriate option.
James had mentioned he’s learning to surf. Thinking of something to say, I told him that I may not be a surf pro, but did enjoy the occasional paddle board. His response? “I think everyone can paddle board”. Note the lack of emojis. I couldn’t tell if he was teasing me or just straight up unimpressed by my likening of surfing to paddle boarding.
Tone being a difficult thing to parse in messages, I was a bit thrown by the response. A bit defensively, and clinging to a seeming common interest, I mentioned two beaches I like going to, Clontarf and Chinamans beach thinking (plainly not very clearly) that I’d impress him with my taste in niche, north shore beaches. I was wrong. James responded informing me that “Chinamans is just a bay.”
I’m sorry, but the dictionary defines a beach as “a pebbly or sandy shore, especially by the sea between high- and low-water marks.” I’m not a native Sydneysider so I didn’t realise there was such a vast difference between Manly and Chinamans beach. Both have sand, water and kids running around.
I was embarrassed. And while messaging with James, all I seemed capable of doing was sounding like a 12-year-old girl with a stupid crush on her friend’s older brother. I sounded childlike! I felt impotent and perhaps worse, creepy.
My first - and probably my last - attempt at DM sliding was a disaster. James was probably only responding out of sympathy.
Even after all of this, I haven’t unfollowed James. However I certainly won’t be ‘liking’ his photos anytime soon. Every photo and story he posts in future shall act as a haunting reminder to think before sending a message.
And confusingly, James has viewed every Insta story I post since our awkward messaging. I hypothesise he is only doing this as a form of self-defence to ensure he doesn’t bump into me on a night out.
This is the issue with social media. You have one bizarre moment of confidence and think it’s okay to send someone you’ve never spoken to in real life, a message. Like, who gave you the right?! This isn’t Tinder.
Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But in all seriousness, James wasn’t rude or cold, he was perfectly amicable. He just wasn’t interested. I learned two lessons from this experience.
Don’t try to create an interesting story to tell your friends just because you’ve got a serious case of FOMO
Don’t assume that a follow back means someone may be interested, and consequently an invitation to message them.
*James’ name has been changed for the purpose of anonymity.