The Art of the Cold DM

By Sonam Rikha ‘24

Having your first semester of college be online is no easy feat. Whether it’s juggling time zones, Zoom fatigue, or the slow loss of sanity from being at home, Zoom University is definitely not how I imagined my first semester of college. As a person who was heavily dependent on friends and fellow classmates to get through difficult classes in high school, I was not only worried about the social aspect of college life but also how the lack of in-person interactions would affect my academic performance this semester. Unlike in-person where I can nudge the person next to me to repeat what the professor said (while I was zoning out) or the ability to ask casual questions to a classmate about an assignment, these simple things that I’ve taken for granted are way more difficult and awkward online. Although I personally identify as an ambivert, the introverted part of me fears the possible rejection or uncomfortableness that comes with reaching out.

Nonetheless, knowing that I probably wouldn’t survive the semester without some allies in my classes, I challenged myself to reach out and cold DM some of my fellow classmates and members of the first-year class. On the first day of my classes, I decided to take a mental note of the people I might DM, taking into consideration how I could make the DM as unawkward as possible. For those who are new to cold DMs I suggest trying to find a similarity between you and the person you are DMing. Personally, I preferred to reach out to first-years from Pomona in classes where there were a variety of class levels and students from other Claremont Colleges. Although I was reluctant to DM someone I hadn’t even met, I decided to give it a try–also, I was confused about a class assignment and didn’t want to look like a clown in front of the professor for not listening carefully.

Now, my friend, there are multiple ways you can approach a DM, but, for your sake, I have narrowed it down to three categories that I like to call The 3 C’s.

Example of Clarification DM

  1. The first one, and the one I use most often, is The Clarification DM. Due to my poor online attention span and my lack of sleep, 30% of what my professors say goes from one ear through the other. Since I simply can’t whisper a question to my classmate, I’ve often resorted to The Clarification DM, which has saved me from turning in my assignments late. While these DMs tend to be more formal and academically related than the others, you can always add a funny meme, gif, or emoji to spice things up.


An example of a Compliment DM I sent last Spring after reading a fellow Sagehen’s post in the Class of 2024 Instagram page
A Compliment DM I sent after reading a fellow Sagehen’s post in the Class of ’24 Instagram page

2. The next DM is The Compliment DM. These are DMs that you can send based on things that you like about the person–whether that be a political stance they take, their fire look, their musical taste, their fashion style, etc. I usually use this type of DM when I want to be friends with someone or if I see something on someone’s Instagram story that is funny or something that we may have in common. While it can feel strange to send these DMs, it’s important to make an effort to connect with others and spread positivity during these times.

Example of Cecil DM3. The last DM that I’ll be covering today is The Cecil DM. Yes, I said what I said: The Cecil DM. Although I haven’t personally used this DM often, I’ve personally received a few. The Cecil DM is a Pomona-related DM. To better explain this type of DM I offer an example to highlight how these DMs may look. They usually consist of comments like “congrats on your acceptance to Pomona,” “Oh, you’re majoring in XYZ, I’m majoring in that too,” or “You seem chill. Can’t wait to meet you on campus.” Since the Class of 2024 has started college online, The Cecil DM has been very useful for starting conversations and connecting with fellow Sagehens.

There are infinite ways to craft a DM. They can be chaotic, funny, or even suspenseful. While I am still honing my craft, and am no master at the art, the three types of DMs that I’ve listed are the ones I’ve received and used the most. I share them with the wish that my fellow introverts and classmates can push themselves to connect with one another online and master the art of the DM.