Subtweets: The latest way to be passive-aggressive on Twitter

Twitter (Image Credit: Andy Melton)
Twitter (Image Credit: Andy Melton)

The subtweet, a new trend on the social network Twitter, has increasingly become a favorite method of communication, branching out into a culture of its own. The art of subtweeting is quite simple: it’s a way of talking about some one without actually mentioning their Twitter handle in the dialogue. Many celebrities, including pop stars like Rihanna and Adam Levine do it. Even us regular people do it. The constant teeter-totter of indirect tweets between enemies or friends is possibly childish, but the passive-aggressive nature makes for some entertaining moments in Twitter history. Be cautious though, subtweets are like paper cuts; they may not be deep, but they still hurt like hell when done perfectly. Here’s how to recognize, start, and avoid a subtweeting battle.

It’s important to note that there are different types of “sub-tweeters.” There are the vicious, spiteful sub-tweeters or the open, sub-tweeters. The open sub-tweeters are harmless and only wish to answer questions or comment on remarks without using the @-button. Sometimes the sub-tweeter will have a sly comment, but it is all in good fun. They will often accompany the subtweet with a hashtag that identifies it as a just that.

Vicious sub-tweeters, on the other hand, are hunters out for the kill. They prey off of other’s tweets and instigate a war. For these people, the idea of subtweeting is to engage in an indirect conversation without encountering any real conflict. But it’s safe to say that conflict is never avoided.

(Image Credit: Adam Levine's & Lady Gaga's Twitter)
(Image Credit: Adam Levine’s & Lady Gaga’s Twitter)

 Recognizing Subtweets

This is the hardest part of the job. Not every tweet you see is going to be about you. Yes, you may have been walking your dog at the same time some one complains to Twitter about hating people walking their dogs and not picking up after them, but that doesn’t mean they targeted you. With that being said, some times you have to be a little narcissistic. If you and another person have a history of not getting along and they coincidentally comment about a song that you claim is your favorite, saying that it is unoriginal or childish, chances are they were directing the comment at you.

Take the twitter feud between Lady Gaga and Adam Levine. Adam Levine tweeted a comment claiming that “recycling old art” didn’t make some one talented, but instead made them an “art teacher.” Lady Gaga quickly caught on, tweeting, “Uh-oh guys, the ‘art police’ is here.” This is a perfect example of what the beginning of a Twitter feud should look like. Adam Levine took a topic, which in this case would be Lady Gaga as an artist, and provided his opinion on the matter. Lady Gaga (who commonly takes inspiration from Madonna) understood that it was directed at her, and responded, poking fun at his judgment.

Starting Subtweet-Feuds

These battles aren’t recommended. However, in the event that you’re bored on a Friday night with nothing to do and just want to have fun, there is a method to this madness. First, you must identify a target. To start simple, you can play with your friend.

Subtweet example: OMG! I’m so tired I just want to sleep for days!

Subtweet attack example: You’re so tired but you’re on Twitter. Just go to bed! HA

That was easy. Now, if you would like to be spiteful and more advanced, you can take lessons from Rihanna, who may be a subtweeting queen. Rihanna attacks dirty at times, including pictures and harsh language. In a subtweet war with Karrueche Tran, Chris Brown’s current girlfriend, the pop star tweeted a picture of Tran commenting on her looks. Tran quickly caught wind and tweeted back saying, “some people don’t have class.”  Although Rihanna didn’t mention Tran, she included a picture, making sure Tran got the subliminal message.

Avoiding Subtweets

Finally, if you would like to avoid a subtweeting war, it’s pretty easy: don’t respond! While your followers will appreciate you giving them a good laugh and something to gossip about, it just takes up loads of your time.

The subtweeting culture will definitely be here for a long time. Everyone loves a subliminal, passive-aggressive conversation. Whether it’s between celebrities or regular folks, at times we all like to be a little nosy and see how far it will really go. As for the people subtweeting, it is just another way for them to unleash the evil person inside without facing the consequences of getting a bruised lip or a black eye.

 


Image courtesy of Andy Melton

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I am an undergraduate student at Syracuse University, studying magazine journalism in The Newhouse School. I love discussing music and movies as well as capturing street art and unique fashion styles.

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