Oh, how nice of you to finally get around to reading this article. We were beginning to worry.
If you’ve spent much time on Twitter, you’ll have likely noticed a bit of passive aggression coming from the site’s 232 million monthly active users. Like celebrity snark and the excessive use of hashtags, passive aggressiveness has become a hallmark of the dark side of Twitter, filling your timeline with vaguely pointed sarcasm.
The immature, non-confrontational behavior is so prevalent it’s earned an unofficial moniker: “subtweeting.” Think of subtweets as Twitter gossip, veiled insults seemingly directed at no one in particular, though very clearly referencing a specific person or event. Lest you think it’s a phenomenon limited to Twitter’s youngest users, think again. Not even celebrities are above the act, as evidenced by one well-known exchange between Kobe Bryant and Mark Cuban.
If you’d like to give your passive aggressiveness a boost, our tongue-in-cheek guide should get you subtweeting at peak capacity in no time.
1. Subtlety Is Everything
When you’re getting started with subtweets, make sure you aren’t directly mentioning the object of your virtual venom. This defeats the whole purpose of subtweeting, which is to remain as ambiguous and evasive as possible.
Let’s talk about what this tweet is doing wrong. First, Kristen has listed far too many of her targets by name. If, say, Mr. McDonald’s or Mr. Breakfast were to see this tweet, they’d discover her unfiltered hatred, as would all of her followers.
For a more passive aggressive approach, subtly express your vitriol while still dropping enough hints. That way, the focus of your anger has only a vague idea of who you’re referencing. See below:
The revised tweet is dripping with passivity. The butt of our aggression is clear, but it’s stated in a more reserved way, achieving the desired effect without the consequences. A+ subtweet.
2. Deny, Deny, Deny
If you’re ever caught in the act of subtweeting and subsequently called out by your subtweetee, your first and only line of defense must be one of rigid denial.
Passive aggressiveness on social media is not a proud act; admitting to it can ruin your Mr. Nice Guy reputation. While this problem could probably be avoided by simply not subtweeting in the first place, denial is really the subtweeter’s only option. The above conversation achieves this wonderfully, never admitting to immaturity and steering away from culpability of any kind. Exceptional.
3. When in Doubt, Subtweet Deeper
Once your subtweet game nears professional level, you can safely begin to explore the world of online passive aggression on a slightly deeper level. This includes moving to other social networks — maybe Instagram and Facebook — or subtweeting multiple targets at once.
Here, the subtweeter has subtweeted the object of her aggression about previous subtweets. Some may think this approaches too much subtweeting, but that level doesn’t exist. Those just getting started with passive aggressiveness on social media should not attempt this before consulting their doctor. Stunning subtweet.
4. Look to Experts for Advice
Like fingerprints, snowflakes and Daniel Day-Lewis films, no two subtweets are exactly the same. The best way to get an idea of your personal style is to observe and imitate the styles of those you respect. Below, we’ve included a small sample of notable subtweeters.
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