Read only: The persistence of lurking in Web 2.0

Scott Kushner discusses the contradiction of social media being fueled by participation when in reality most people virtually stand back and don’t participate in his article Read Only: The persistence of lurking in Web 2.0. I found an interesting connection between Kushner’s article about lurking and Rheinhold’s piece titled What’s a Parent to do? What’s a Parent to know? on page 245 of the Net Smart text.

As a parent of a five year old daughter my husband and I have had to think a lot about what and how much we post about our daughter. When we were growing up the idea of oversharing about children never existed. Now I have to worry about posting where she goes to school or where we are. I also worry about posting if my husband is gone for a work trip. I don’t want it to be public knowledge that my daughter and I are home alone.

Lurking plays a big role in online safety for families because you never know who read or saw information and didn’t acknowledge it. Without acknowledging it with a comment or reaction I have no way of knowing who has seen this information. Lurking is dangerous because as hard as we try to make sure our privacy is protected others may share our posts or post things about our families without our knowledge. Its like lurkers can easily gain significant facts and information without having to try. It makes it much more available to them and it also ties in the gray area of privacy. Just because you know its wrong to keep checking back on peoples posts and pages doesn’t mean that will stop them.

In general I feel that lurking isn’t always a bad thing. My husband rarely posts. Usually if he does its because he did something neat or noteworthy when his family wasn’t with. This doesn’t happen very often. Usually I am the one to post things. He also guards the number of likes or comments he makes. He believes that if you constantly like or comment on things they have way less meaning then if you hold back and only comment on things that are really neat. If you lurk in a healthy way it be a positive thing but it can be pretty easy to tip the scale and create an unhealthy habit.

I think most lurkers out there are harmless but unfortunately in 2017 the web has evolved to allow this practice to take place easily and discreetly in most cases.

Posted on October 15, 2017, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights, Lynn, and your synopsis of the “Lurkers” article. I’m with you and make a conscious decision not to share too many details regarding my personal life. I certainly don’t tag any locations in my posts, although most of my posts have to deal with my current litter of foster cats. So, most people probably think I am just a crazy cat lady anyway.

    Another thing I have done is really scrubbed my friends list and separated “friends” from “acquaintances,” and when I do post, I only share with “friends.” Scrubbing the list was pretty time consuming but I think it was worth it.

    Jennifer R.

  2. For someone who considers herself an early adopter, I do find myself limiting what I post [and what I see] more and more lately. As I commented last week, things seem so volatile these days and you never know what someone might misinterpret. And I certainly don’t feel like getting into a comment war on my Facebook page! In fact, even friendly comments on posts I made while on a recent trip to NYC bothered me. Random friends [who lurk and barely post on their own pages] wanted to meet up and I just didn’t have the time and didn’t want to outline all of my whereabouts in a public forum. Sigh…it’s always a balancing act!

    Speaking of which, see this piece from an MIT scholar on the value of pseudonyms, which relates in a way to lurking:

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