Just Say No To Subtweeting


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One of my pet peeves on Twitter is subtweeting: people who get angry, but instead of addressing the problem directly with the person(s) involved, they instead decide to abruptly unfollow and/or block the person(s) involved (and sometimes even unfollow or block the spouse of a person involved…even when the spouse didn’t even know about the altercation!), and then go on a subtweeting frenzy about the “enemy”.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with subtweeting, it is a passive-aggressive, unproductive waste of time in which a person tweets (usually vaguely and hostilely) about a person/situation but without tagging the other individual(s) involved so they can respond to the accusations. (The subtweeting offender doesn’t necessarily always block the person first, but blocking is frequently done as well).

Both subtweeting and blocking (**See Note, Below) behaviors are unproductive and just plain ridiculous in so many ways, but here are just a few of the reasons I find this behavior so abhorrent:

**Note: Here I am referring to blocking due to an argument, or sometimes even just a difference of opinion. Note that sometimes blocking is warranted for such issues as harassing or threatening or repeated issues, etc.

1).  It is cowardly. Say it directly, or shut up.

2).  It is pointless.  All the blocked person needs to do is sign out of their Twitter account, and voila!: all the “blocked” tweets are visible if you know how to search (unless the offender’s Twitter account is set to private).

3). It kills communication and allows misunderstandings and hard feelings to fester.  The original problem is never resolved nor even examined.

4). It fosters a passive-aggressive style of communication which is unproductive for all parties.

5). If the people being subtweeted about never know you are talking about them, they may not even know you are upset or what you are upset about.

6). It is divisive, and fosters middle-school cliquish behavior where factions form and gossip and exclude outsiders. But we are not 13. The people I am referring to are all seemingly intelligent adults, and most of them are allegedly feminists. Let’s please act like it.

Until we are able to deal with conflict directly and respectfully, we will remain stuck doing unproductive actions, spinning our wheels endlessly. Until we can band together in spite of our arguments and differences, we will never make true progress. Until we learn to communicate better, we are bound to keep misunderstanding each other.

There is a better way.  Otherwise, we really are all just talking to ourselves.

Updated to Add: 06/28/2017: Since this post, I have updated my own policy on blocking on Twitter. I used to reserve blocking for only the most serious of circumstances (threats, perverts, etc.); however, now, I do block when someone is outright rude/disrespectful, and/or when it becomes obvious that the person has absolutely no interest in actually having a reciprocal discussion (if he/she only wants to lecture/accuse/berate/argue and refuses to listen to what I am saying). I will also block those who have blocked me now, for the simple reason of “back at ya!”. There are other instances where I may block, but those are the basics. I have learned that sometimes it is best to just get rid of the negativity and pick my battles.

16 thoughts on “Just Say No To Subtweeting

  1. I love you, Saye. Not in any silly, romantic way, but because I really do love people who explain to me clearly and not very patronizingly things I didn’t know about before. Though I don’t use twitter and have never tweeted, I can now add “subtweeting” to my more-or-less active vocabulary.
    It may sound like I’m trivializing your post, but no, things like that really are important to me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • LOL, thanks! I wasn’t aware of the phenomenon either, until I had been on Twitter long enough to regularly see enough vague but downright mean tweets with no apparent context…regularly enough to investigate it.

      Passive-aggressive behavior in general is one of my pet peeves. I have great respect for people who address me directly (either privately or publicly) rather than allowing hurt feelings or misunderstandings or conflicts etc. to fester.

      I am not perfect myself by any means, for example, just a few nights ago I got mad and deleted someone’s comment when I was beyond tired and frustrated.

      But I woke up to realize my error and posted a response to them in the comment thread even though I was unable to recover the deleted comment.

      My point is, we are all human and all make mistakes and overreact and hurt people’s feelings, etc., so the best thing to do is just try to deal with the situation as directly as possible as soon as possible.

      Thanks, as always, for your comment and your support! 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

      • Passive-aggressive behaviour is something we can all be guilty of, especially in relation to those we are closest to. As an ex-Catholic, it’s still something I “examine my conscience” about before sleeping at night. On public forums, I feel we have a duty to be actively aggressive, or not aggressive at all.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Yes, passive aggressive behavior is very easy to fall into so it’s good to examine ourselves and correct if necessary.

          Also, it’s important to learn the difference between assertive and aggressive too; in other words, to learn to defend ourselves and our thoughts without decimating or rejecting the other person.

          It is a very delicate and difficult balance to maintain, and I don’t always master that balance, but I certainly try!

          Liked by 3 people

        • You’re right about almost everything, Saye, and you’re certainly right when you say: “it’s important to learn the difference between assertive and aggressive.” But it’s meaningless unless we define those words on out own terms.

          I’m going to do something now that I NEVER do, which is speak on behalf of ALL gay people, from the stoniest butch dyke to the nanciest femme queen. WHATEVER we do, even if we attach words like ‘assertive’ to it, we will always be interpreted as ‘aggressive’.

          Hoping (more than ever) for well-reasoned disagreement.

          Liked by 4 people

        • You know, I hadn’t really thought of that, at least not specifically in those terms.

          But now that you said it, it makes sense.

          Maybe some of the extreme backlash that Dirt and I (particularly Dirt, she’s been doing this much, much, MUCH longer than I have) get is because we are outspoken lesbians.

          So since we (and other gays/lesbians who speak up) are questioning the status quo, and won’t shut up, we are perceived to be more aggressive than if a straight person was saying the same things, even when we are trying to be assertive rather than aggressive.


          Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ll never understand why people talk about controversial topics and get so mad when they receive critical (not unkind or disrespectful) response. If you can’t handle mature discussion, you shouldn’t start one.
    I don’t have an account on twitter so I have never faced subtweeting before. It seems so incredibly childish!

    Liked by 5 people

    • True, I totally know what you mean!

      I don’t expect people to agree with me (in fact, I realize that very many people won’t), but I truly do believe that it is possible to for people to learn to disagree respectfully, to have a conversation about our differences, and to agree on the common ground whenever possible.

      Bartek, you are a great example of being able to do that, and thanks for that!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Bartek, I am no twitterer either. but I think my attitude chimes with yours, more or less. If Saye (or Dirt) chooses to publish a comment by me. that’s so other people can say how much they disagree. or agree or are uncertain about what I say. We used to call that a conversation.

      Liked by 3 people

      • From the other hand, people often use their right to speak freely in a harmful way. I remember one accident that happened some time ago in my home town. A young woman fainted shortly after she came out of the bus. Unfortunately, she was holding her child; that poor girl felt out of her arms right on the street. The driver didn’t notice what had happened and moved the bus. The child had no chance to survive. I found comments on our local web portal where people were speculating, that the woman intentionally killed her baby, just because when she regained consciousness and saw her daughter’s body she was just staring at her without any reaction. Those people claimed that ‘loving mother would immediately start to despair’, completely ignoring that she could be (and probably was!) in shock. It was obviously the driver’s fault (he shouldn’t move the bus without checking that all the passengers left safely), so why people tried to blame the mother? While I support the freedom of speech, I regret that people are often so mindless about what they’re saying. 😦

        Liked by 4 people

        • What an absolutely horrible thing to happen, that poor mother!

          You are right, I think since it’s online and people aren’t looking directly at each other, they often say terrible things that they would never say in person (and should never say at all anyway!).

          I agree with what you are saying: even though I believe in freedom of speech, I don’t believe it is ever right to say reprehensible things like that.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not much on Twitter, so I’m not aware of the phenomenon, but it looks like passive-aggressive individuals will always finds ways to do their thing. Rather immature and childish. Are you noticing the same elsewhere? Any subtumblring or the like? What about here on WP?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not on Tumblr, so I don’t know, but that is a good question! I am also not sure about WordPress, because I am still relatively new here and still learning my way around and getting to know people.

      I think Twitter is the “perfect storm” for this sort of thing, though, because the combination of having such a limit of characters to use (particularly if several people are in the converstation) and conversations happening so fast with multiple people tweeting that it is difficult to follow sometimes, which leads to frequent misunderstandings.

      Plus it is rather cliquish anyway, from what I have observed, and if you piss one of the clique off, the whole lot of them will often unfollow you and start subtweeting behind your back. (And Dirt and I apparently piss people off on a regular basis).

      Would be interesting to find out if it is as bad on other social media sites…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Always A Lesbian | Saye Bennett

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