You’re so vain, you probably thought this tweet was about you

Sophia Mackey, Reporter, Artist

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Lately, students use and abuse their 140 characters on Twitter for trash talk instead of actually confronting issues that bother them.

Some know this act as “subtweeting.” Urban dictionary defines subtweeting as “indirectly tweeting something about someone without mentioning their name. Even though their name is not mentioned, it is clear who the person tweeting is referring to.”

Subtweeting happens so often that tweeters are now immune to its occurrence and effects. I want to clear up the definition of subtweeting so we all know exactly when the act happens. Subtweeting involves:

  1. Using the word ‘you’ in a tweet. This makes the tweet specifically targeted at one person without actually saying who that person is.
  2. Furiously tweeting against what someone else said without specifically addressing their opinion. This creates dramatic and unnecessary Twitter fights.
  3. Choosing a side in a Twitter fight and tweeting opinions, but not at anyone involved in it. Despite specifically trying to not create drama, this only adds to it. Everyone knows what those tweets mean. C’mon.
  4. Tweeting ‘I wish everyone would stop fighting’ in the middle of a Twitter fight. Do not be fooled. This is not a peaceful tweet or a sign of neutrality. Similar to #3, this only adds to the drama no one wanted in the first place.

Subtweeting seems innocent. After all, everyone maintains the right to freedom of speech. Subtweeting just takes away the blame of hurting someone’s feelings. Like a preteen’s gossip or a rude rumor, subtweeting will always hurt someone, whether that is the intention or not.

Instead, follow these alternatives to subtweeting: For example, instead of secretly tweeting an opposing opinion, tweet back, explain your views, and ask questions. This starts an actual dialogue that could end with understanding others’ viewpoints. To some, it may seem scary to technologically confront someone, but in the end, everyone will gain a little more perspective from one another.

Despite the beauty of conversation, sometimes not saying anything actually seems better. Although I am an outspoken person, I realize that sometimes the argument is not worth it or that I just should not get involved. I decide to not subtweet and not even tweet back. Instead, I write out my angry thoughts or discuss the situation with someone outside of Twitter. This way, I avoid a messy fight and still converse or even improve my writing skills.

We can all avoid the evil act of subtweeting and simultaneously find ways to induce strong conversation and dialogue. We could continue to talk behind each others’ backs and hurt someone’s feelings or we could reply (kindly), create a smart dialogue, and build a potential friendship.