What parents need to know about subtweets…

By guest blogger, Lexie Maitland
What the heck is a subtweet? 
Parents, my guess is that you probably don’t know.  But you should.  They are a more subtle form of cyberbullying, and they are just plain annoying. They’re like the big, bad monsters of Twitter because they’re typically degrading a person. I’ve mentioned them in some of my earlier blog posts this summer, but I didn’t quite go into detail about them. Today, you’re in luck, because you’re about to get the full run down on subtweets and why they exist.
A subtweet is when you post about a person without specifically mentioning them.  You never directly refer to a person, but you are talking about them, and your followers pick up on that. Usually used to mock or make fun of or call out someone, an example might be:
In this example, here is what happens. This tweet was directed at a specific person.  That person is likely a follower who will see it and feel terrible.  And, it can also ignite a firestorm of drama.  How?

The guessing game…

Once a subtweet has been sent out for the world to see, what I like to refer to as “the guessing game” has begun. Of course people are going to start guessing what the subtweet is about. We are human and we’re nosy, so we will wrack our brains about possible people that the subtweet may be directed towards. Assumptions are made – right or wrong- and gossip gets started. Feelings get hurt. A snowball effect of re-tweets and more tweets can ensue causing more and deeper hurt.  Not to mention the fact that all of this is reflecting badly on the social media profile of the original poster.  Subtweets are public for everyone to see.

The ‘why’ behind subtweets… 

Subtweets are frequently used among teenagers today.  You may occasionally come across some adults that use them, but it is pretty rare. As a teen myself, I think they are overused and extremely annoying. On the other hand, I understand the emotions that are spurred by drama.   When teens become too consumed in drama, they feel as if they need a place to rant.  Sometimes, too many times, they post something before they think about it- and may or may not feel regret later.  Since outright cyberbullying is vicious and malicious, some resort to the more subtle “subtweet” to get a point across.   Or,  they need someone or an “electronic place” to vent to, but they’re afraid of being told that they are wrong or that they did the wrong thing.  Again, without putting much thought into it, they turn to Twitter.  Twitter suddenly becomes their outlet and the place that they feel most comfortable posting their feelings.  This is dangerous for a million reasons covered in other blog posts, but with my generation so consumed with our devices, people have suddenly turned to their screen instead of a real person to share their feelings and frustrations.

So, what can parents do?

As you might guess, there is nothing productive that results from a subtweet. They make people look immature, shallow, even narcissistic.  It comes down to manners.  It’s really that simple. If parents don’t understand what subtweets are and how they work, they are at a disadvantage in communicating with a teen about a situation that is troubling them.  Follow your teen on Twitter, and stay engaged.  If you see a subtweet, have a conversation.

To teens, I would say this. Sometimes we tend to get so caught up in a moment of frustration and anger, that we just want to blow off steam on our social media account. Before you tweet that subtweet, think of the consequences and how it portrays your character. Do you really want one subtweet to define your character?






1 Comment
  • Gail
    August 5, 2015

    Great information and article!