I have a confession to make: I’m a natural lurker.
I’m a person who tends to read a lot more than I comment. Before I started writing daily in public (via this site), I rarely ever wrote online. Just a few status updates here and there. Always on a private, friends-locked platform.
Never in public forums.
But I was a member of many of them. I read all kinds of niche content. Some of these groups were ones that I felt an affinity with. I would read because I had a lot in common with the members, and by reading about what they were going through, it was a form of indirect support. Validation. Confirmation that I wasn’t the only one going through what I was going through or interested in what I was interested in.
I got this validation just by reading, without ever posting anything myself.
I also would quietly read other forums out of morbid curiosity. Because I didn’t agree with the people who inhabited them at all. And I wanted to test my biases. See if there was something I was missing. I wanted a window into a different way of thinking, of being.
And again, I got this benefit without ever posting anything myself.
I Still Lurk A Lot
These days, I’m rather vocal in public of course — via Poly Land. I post an article a day and am active on the blog’s social media.
But as far as other public forums? I’m still the person who silently lurks.
I’m even that way sometimes with my friends on their social media. Yes, I’m much more likely to read friends’ statuses and smile and scroll onward than to stop and comment on everything I read or to even react.
Sometimes this has caused friends to be rather surprised, when I’ll bring up something they said online later (because it becomes relevant). Since they didn’t even know I was reading and paying attention to them.
I Also Scroll Away from Things I Don’t Like or Could Nitpick
And I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT scroll right past things I don’t agree with all the time. I have a hard time getting into the mindset of someone who decides, for example, to critique memes. Maybe a clever tweet is 99% right but has one bit of nuance it misses — because it’s a tweet — it’s not exactly the length needed to completely encapsulate the possible array of human consciousness in a steadfast way. There will nonetheless be no shortage of people who pop in to offer some edge case not addressed by said tweet instead of simply scrolling away.
This is not to say that this isn’t a worthy mindset. It’s just that I live in a very different existence. It’s much the same way that these days I am basically never compelled to comment correcting someone’s grammar, spelling, or syntax. Perhaps I’ll mentally note the lack of orthodoxy, it’s true, but then I scroll away.
Are Lurkers & People Who Simply Scroll Away Different?
I find myself wondering sometimes if people who tend to lurk and simply scroll away from things they could otherwise critique are different than those who engage.
Not better, not worse. That’s not what I’m asking. But different.
There have definitely been days when writing in public daily has been quite difficult because I’m not compelled at baseline to want to chime in. To want to share. I always feel like I need to have something to say, that what I’d post needs to meet a certain threshold to be worth putting out there in the first place.
And to be honest, there have been days when I don’t know if I’ve met it or not (although I’ll often find readers quite interested in that content anyway, once it’s out there, putting my mind at ease).