For more than a decade, I’ve carried on with a number of truly pathetic, one-sided DMs. I type, send links, share photos, and pour my heart out in these chats, but I’ve never once received a response.
It sounds embarrassing, but don’t worry, I’m not being ghosted or anything. I’ve just been DMing myself.
OK, now that I’ve typed it out, I realize that does sound a little embarrassing. Before you judge, let me explain.
People who send direct messages on social media primarily use them to communicate with friends, family members, acquaintances, even strangers. While I do exchange messages with other people, I also frequently use the DM features on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to send myself messages. Occasionally, I’ll text or Slack myself too. I send posts that intrigue or resonate with me, articles I want to read in the future when I have more time, and sometimes I DM content from my phone to my laptop if it’s easier than using iMessage or AirDrop.
Sliding into my own DMs is a convenient, practical, helpful way to collect and save information. The problem is, I never remember to check back and read all of the DM-worthy stuff I send myself. As a result, robust feeds of personally curated, long-forgotten content are tragically relegated to digital black holes of my own creation.
So I set out on a journey to catch up on years’ worth of messages to make things right with my past selves and restore integrity to the self-DM process. I learned a lot about myself.
If you self-DM, you could too. If not, maybe you should.
Ghosts of forgotten DMs past
The realization that I never check my DMs to myself hit recently, when I accidentally clicked my own Twitter direct message thread and was greeted by a tweet I’d sent a few days prior. I’d loved the tweet, wanted to revisit it at some point, and was afraid it would get lost in my ever-growing sea of liked tweets, so I took the extra step of DMing it. The tweet was only a week old yet, sadly, I’d already forgotten it. That made me wonder what other long-lost treasures were hiding in the stack of DMs to me, from me.
I scrolled up from 2021 DMs to the very first Twitter message I sent myself, in June 2017. Among the archives were helpful threads of advice, ideas for pitches I’d intended to flesh out further, relatable reaction screenshots shared from out-of-context TV accounts like @nonewgirlcontxt and @nocontextroyco, what claimed to be a recipe for the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies, and roughly 25 tweets about Chris Evans’ sweater in Knives Out. It was a trip down memory lane so fascinating that I had to keep the journey going.
Credit: SCREENSHOT / TWITTER
Next up? Instagram. I scrolled back to the first DM I sent myself in June 2016 — past an array of sentimental photos, gorgeous art, and inspiring quotes. I’d sent myself lists of small businesses to buy from, accounts to follow, books to read, tips for managing anxiety, and that one deeply soothing Cillian Murphy Calm ad, so I’d always have it on hand. It was like Content Christmas.
I know what you’re probably thinking: Can’t I just save Instagram posts to folders? It’s easier and only requires a single tap, whereas DMing myself requires me to hit the share button on a post, type my own name in the search bar, and hit send. The answer is yes, I could just save to folders. But I like the absurdity of sending myself a message, and it’s become a habit I can’t seem — or don’t want — to shake. Consider this: If we weren’t meant to send ourselves DMs, then why have the social media gods made it possible?
If we weren’t meant to send ourselves DMs, then why have the social media gods made it possible?
I can’t remember the first time I sent myself a message. Maybe I used my silver Motorola Razr to text myself important reminders in middle school. Or perhaps I blew up my own DMs during my AIM, Myspace, or Tumblr years. The earliest self-DM I could locate was on Facebook, the social media platform I’ve begrudgingly been using the longest.
On June 23, 2008, I Facebook messaged myself a perplexing Kanye West lyric that what would later become my high school yearbook quote. I sent an article about Michael Phelps dominating the Olympics that year, a StubHub confirmation for concert tickets to Beyoncé’s 2009 I Am… World Tour, an essay I wrote for a Spanish class in 2010, a variety of emo song lyrics I probably intended to set as my status some day, a 2013 Buzzfeed listicle about John Krasinski, and other oddities.
Much to my surprise, the trip into my DMs, which started as a joke, left me overcome with emotion. I was prepared to feel foolish after seeing just how many messages I’d sent myself and forgot to read over the years. What I hadn’t expected was the swell of nostalgia that would come from scrolling back through years of my digital life. I mean, I Facebook messaged myself the final copy of my 16th birthday party invites. Talk about a blast from the past. (Also, semi-formal? Teen Nicole, please!)
Credit: SCREENSHOT / FACEBOOK
Revisiting special collections of content that touched me over the years was like gazing into digital time capsules or reading old diaries. I was so thankful I’d sent myself all those DMs. I only wished I’d checked them sooner.
Was this a me problem? I wondered. Or did other people out there DM themselves and forget to check the chats, too?
The common, chaotic practice of self-DMing
I put a call out on Twitter with a poll to learn if other people slide into their own DMs. Of the 297 votes cast, more than 66 percent of people said they DM themselves all the time. Phew.
Tweet may have been deleted
It was reassuring to learn the practice is somewhat common, and several people replied to admit that although they constantly message themselves, they too forget to check their own DMs. Chaos. At least our intentions are pure.
For those who love DMing themselves or want to start, I recommend setting aside specific times in your schedule to check your DMs on a regular basis. Consider setting reminders so you don’t miss out on this impactful content. One Twitter user who said she usually forgets to check her DMs shared that she’ll read them whenever she gets stuck or feels like she’s hit a creativity lull. She uses them as an “inspo thread,” an idea I adore and intend to start doing myself.
If sending self-DMs isn’t for you, people also shared some helpful alternatives in the tweet replies. Try texting or emailing yourself instead of DMing, that way you can easily pin or mark your messages as unread, which may make you more inclined to give them a look. You can also try bookmarking pages that you want to revisit to your browser or use any bookmark or save features that are built into social media platforms. (Keep in mind you still have to remember to check those.)
If all else fails, you could download an app like Pocket, which lets you sync your personal accounts and save content from different devices, social media platforms, and publishers in one handy place.
A single app for all my saved content sounds super convenient, but I know myself. I’m not going to magically remember to check another app just because all my favorite tweets, Instagram posts, and articles are in one place. More importantly, I don’t want to. I like the excitement, the challenge, the unconventional nature of sliding into my own DMs, and I’m not ready to ditch the self-DM life just yet.
Plus, I’m not about to ghost myself. That’s just rude.