I’m always curious about folk who are plugged into Social Media and passively watch without visibly engaging or contributing. It’s been referred to as “lurking” and I laid out some thoughts a year ago on a post called “Watch out there’s a Lurker about!”. In hindsight, the post was probably more about lack of community on some LinkedIn Groups… there’s quite an interesting write up on lurking on wikipedia if you care to read more.
Anyway, an exchange with @mervyndinnen on Twitter today has surfaced the question of whether “lurking” is a good or bad activity… is it socially offensive?
Interestingly, the conversation with Mervyn showed an appreciation of lurkers as playing “an important role as conduits of content”. There’s a related article on this here pointing out an important nuance on lurking…
“just because no one is talking, it doesn’t mean no one is listening”
Yet lurking still has connotations of negativity and to some extent doesn’t seem to do justice to those who watch, observe and, in ways we may not see, pass on knowledge & content.
Let’s leave lurking to those who truly lie in wait, sneak and generally create mistrust.
For those good folk who choose to exist unobserved or unsuspected and distribute content, why don’t we appreciatively call them fans, spectators, curators or even browsers?
They are the informal pipeline distributing content by word of mouth in networks and within organisations. I think they deserve better than the negatives connotations of lurking and it’s etymological roots.
How do you see your valued, hidden supporters?