Dear Freshmen: How to Slide in Someone’s Zoom DMs

By Toby R. Ma

With this virtual semester well underway, you might be feeling pretty desperate over the monotonous nature of this new academic lifestyle, ripe with daily Zoom sessions, lower back pain, and WiFi-dependent social interactions. We also might be projecting. Nonetheless, there is no greater joy these days than holding fun, private Zoom conversations while your professor figures out how to share their screen. If you’re looking to find a reliable lecture or section friend, check out these tips to successfully slide into someone’s Zoom DMs!

Pset Buddy?

This is truly a classic, and holds up well even in a virtual setting. Feel free to hit someone up with the ever-reliable, “Want to pset for this class together?” for an easy, painless interaction. After all, everyone is always looking for those juicy, virtual connections during these ~unprecedented times~. There is no greater coping mechanism than lamenting the different Canvas page set-ups across your classes while completing assignments together. Can all the professors just get together and agree on what the “Modules” page actually includes? Just remember to ask people who are likely in the same time zone as you for maximum efficiency and minimal awkwardness in your conversations!

Foodies Unite

Are Zoom calls starting to feel like virtual lunch dates with you, the ten random people in your section, and your TF, or is that just me? My steamed dumplings are not going to eat themselves. With class time slowly transforming into snack time, sometimes those novelty Trader Joe’s chips your classmate is munching on might actually be a fun conversation starter. During one of my sections, a girl and I took continuous, unintentionally synchronized bites of our snacks that we “brought” to class. After I sent her a message pointing out our tasteful section habits, the pointed eye contact and shared [muted] laughter that followed was truly a vibe. If they’re really going at that breakfast burrito though, it might be best to let them enjoy their meal in peace.

Mutual Misery

Remember the good old days during in-person class when Section Kid would make some questionable comment and you’d make eye contact with that one person you didn’t really know but whose vibes you sincerely appreciated so you could make incredulous yet comedic faces at each other? Yeah, so do we. While this doesn’t quite have the same effect, whipping out a good old “????” during those moments of online class makes for some pretty entertaining interactions. The combined adrenaline rush of trying to not accidentally send your message to everyone while watching the other person struggle not to laugh on-camera is simply unparalleled.


Are you intrigued by their Studio Ghibli-inspired virtual background? Jealous of their cute blue-light glasses? Suspect you might be seeing a fellow plant lover based on their windowsill set-up? A genuinely thoughtful compliment is almost always sure to make someone smile, even despite the endless series of Jamboards and Slack channel plugs throughout each lecture. In all honesty, it can even make you feel warm and fuzzy when you see their face light up on-screen in response to your message. When delivered with the purest of intents, the right person is sure to respond with equal enthusiasm, marking the beginning of a wholesome slew of red “private” texts in your Zoom chat window.

Just because we’re all sitting in front of our laptop cameras certainly doesn’t mean your opportunities for human interaction have disappeared. While you may have to be a little more creative with your socialization strategies, there are plenty of potential friendships waiting for you deep in that Zoom participants list. So, turn on your gallery mode and chat away!

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