I started community college last fall and it’s been fun. I love the theater program there and the faculty is amazing. This semester has been different since I upped my course load to 20 credits compared to 15 credits last semester. And I’ve received mixed feelings about me coming into the program. Recently, there has been some questions arising about my ability to do my duties for these two upcoming shows that I’m participating in as a Stage Manager. (The duties are immense. There’s so many of them.)
Another guy in the program tweeted the following (edited):
don’t complain about having to do work when you never do anything anyway
u is stupid u is rude u is unnecessary
you can do your job without being a rude ass bitch actually you can’t even do your job you’re just a bitch start doing your job
here’s a cool concept you shutting the hell up and actually learning you’re damn place
like pls admit that you don’t know anything bc honestly it’s no secret we’re very aware of how incapable and incompetent you are
like yeah you’re learning, but you’re not even applying it, so get off your high horse
can’t pick up your messes can’t even learn from your mistakes you need someone to hold your hand why are you in this department
He didn’t tag me in it, but I’ve felt like he’s been posting about me and I don’t know what to do.
Should I leave the department or stick it out? I could tell the head about this, but we’re adults. I need to deal with this myself, I feel like.
Well, you’re half right, Sparkler: One of you is an adult.
The other is a petulant little subtweeting weenie—a subtweenie, if you will—whose journey toward “adult” status has been terribly retarded (if not derailed entirely.) This covert-aggressive thing of airing out a bunch of drama on the internet, so you can get the thrill of bullying someone without having to actually take responsibility for your words, is just so incredibly immature, attention-seeking, obnoxious, and useless. You might be the subject of those tweets, but they’re also not really about you; they’re about the insecure person who wrote them wanting to feel superior and validated. If this guy had anything useful to say about your job performance, he wouldn’t be dropping his comments like anonymous turds in his own personal corner of the internet. You would have heard it from him directly—as well as from whoever’s officially in charge of making sure you fulfill your stage manager duties.
All of which is to say, you can basically write him off as totally not worth listening to, and you certainly shouldn’t let the obnoxious snarking of one whiny kid force you out of a department you love. You can and should be open to criticism so that you can get better at your job, but considering the source is important too; surely you can get your feedback from better places than a handful of bitchy subtweets.
The bad news is, writing the guy off is also pretty much all you can do, unless you happen to be super-self-possessed and extraordinarily good at confrontation. Otherwise, there’s just no way to engage with this kind of behavior without making yourself look just as petty and pathetic; you only maintain the upper hand by pretending to be oblivious. (Unspoken subtext: “I don’t care enough about you to pay any attention to your Twitter feed.”)
Of course, on the off chance that you are extraordinarily good at confrontation, then your conversation would go something like this.
You:[cheerfully and with unflappable confidence] Hey, if you’d like to give me some constructive feedback on how to stage manage, you’re welcome to do it in person.
Him:[Pretends to have no idea what you mean and/or denies the tweets were about you.]
You:[not letting your smile slip even one millimeter] It’s okay, buddy. If I’d done something that passive-aggressive, I wouldn’t want to admit it, either. Just talk to me, next time, if you have something to say.
Have this conversation in a crowded room, just loudly enough for other people to notice.
EXTRA CREDIT: You: [now in full Condescending Wonka mode] By the way, “learn your damn place” is spelled Y-O-U-R.
Needless to say, if you could pull that off, it would be pretty damn magnificent—and if you pulled it off well, it might put the nastiness to a stop, since it’s basically the worst nightmare of people who do this stuff to actually be called out on it.
That said, it might also just foment more conflict, particularly if it’s not just this guy who has a beef with you. You haven’t mentioned whether he’s a member of a majority clique or just a single, rogue tweeter; if it’s the former, then your energy is probably better spent on getting good at your stage managing duties than on stirring that particular pot. But whether you confront or ignore, your goal is the same: To do your job capably, to stay cool and professional, and to make it plainly and repeatedly clear that the only drama you’re interested in is the one taking place onstage.
Because FYI, if you’re going to stick it out in a college theater department, that’s an act you’re gonna have a lot of chances to work on.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.