There are times that, for various reasons, I read conversations and watch what is going on without visibly participating. Does that make me a bad person, or is my behaviour an entirely rational response to our busy modern world? Do I need to ‘fess up and join in, or is it socially acceptable nowadays for me to passively consume what others create?
To which I say:
I might start calling it “lurning.”
Random thought about lurking and “stealing” — when I make and share something and someone lurns from it, I think of it as that unknown person enacting an act of kindness on my behalf. I not only don’t need to know, but perhaps it is better that I don’t, like when I give the barista a gift card from the coffee shop and tell them to use it on later customers until it runs out. How much of the frustration expressed about “lurkers” is driven by ego and a desire for validation…neither of which is helped at all by the reputation signaling foregrounded by social media services and apps?
Don’t get me wrong: I struggle immensely with these issues of ego and meaning and putting my self-estimated value too often and too much in the hands of others. But that is, as they say, about myself, not about “them.”
Another thought — how often is “lurking” a matter of perspective and incomplete information. I am more and more someone who would likely be considered a lurker in most of my former ed/edtech communities, but really I’m a lurner and a conduit to unseen communities not visible from the perspective of the lurker-labelers.