By Amanda Tonoli
You’re scrolling through your timeline on Twitter and BAM. You see it. You know it’s about you. It’s the girl who sits three seats behind you, tweeting about her hate for your oversized laptop blocking her view of the board. *Insert eye roll*
Here’s the question, why couldn’t she just tell you she couldn’t see? What was the point of this noxious post to the world cursing you and your large laptop?
She subtweeted you.
Subtweeting — short for subliminal tweeting — is tweeting about someone without tagging them via their Twitter handle.
In “What Is Subtweeting?” an article written in December 2012 for the Business Insider, Dylan Love defines subtweeting — noting that the actual word is one of many Twitter-born expressions.
“A scaled-down definition might be this: subtweeting is a way to publicly talk about someone behind his back,” Love said.
Subtweets aren’t always bad though. Many think they are a passive-aggressive form of communication, sometimes intending to get someone to do or stop doing whatever you’re posting about. Other times, a subtweet is used to grouse about something or, usually, someone that annoys them — exactly what we need, more complaining on the Internet.
So, what makes a good subtweet?
In “The Art of Subtweeting” on The Social Chic published in October 2012, David Benson takes a completely different approach to passive-aggressive tweets. He notes that good subtweets are actually meticulously designed.
“Other people reading must remain unaware of what you are actually saying,” Benson said. “This is where most subtweets fail; it’s not really a subtweet if the majority of your audience knows you are passive-aggressively tweeting about a specific person.”
So, there is a method to the onslaught of madness in the mess of social networks. Benson continues to argue that subtweets have an actual goal.
“The intended recipient needs to understand the hidden meaning, but the tweet needs to stand on its own in the eyes of the general public,” Benson said.
Benson also brings up the tweets we all hate seeing — the cries for attention and incessant whining about one another in the most obnoxious way possible. Of course, we occasionally fall victim to when someone hurts our egos like, for example, not getting a call back from that date you went on a week ago.
How do we craft the perfect subtweet, though?
First, one has to be clever, rather than whining in yet another tweet about how much boys or girls suck. Find something that would be clear to the intended person, but not something to further annoy followers — not to mention something that is mindful of your future employers sifting through your posts about college angst.
“Tease out the details for greater amusement,” Benson said. “If said ‘stupid boy’ wears a lot of hats, go with ‘From my research, Snapback wearers run a high risk of brain cell suffocation. Communicative intelligence may suffer from even short-term use.’”
Clearly he never called back because his over-worn Snapback is cutting off oxygen to his already tiny brain.
So, the art to subtweeting is to not tip everyone else off as to who you are talking about — hence not tagging them in the first place. The point of a subtweet isn’t to complain, but to get your point across with a certain level of diplomacy.
Maximum results to artfully crafting your tweet would be that you get the idiot in the front of the class to shut her huge laptop, or to get that phone call back from last Thursday. On a minimal level, in learning to subtweet properly, you stop annoying your followers with your passive-aggressiveness.