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What’s wrong with being a lurker?

watson on laptopIt occurred to me that while I haven’t been writing or curating as much as I usually do, I still make sure that I’m reading my various social media feeds, so I can see what the latest trends and conversations are about these days.

The thought popped into my mind–what’s wrong with being a lurker, who is someone who reads but doesn’t comment online? After all, not everyone likes or wants to be writing all the time. I personally have a big mouth that translates here into writing, but that doesn’t mean that everyone likes to talk as much as I do. There is no requirement in social media that one needs to be posting or re-posting tweets or other information that they read every five minutes, after all.  Even so, what’s the advantage of being a lurker online?

The way I see it, being a lurker is similar to being the person in the room who obviously isn’t saying a word, but is absorbing all the information that’s going on in the room. The lurker can read, observe and learn a lot just by staying still and not saying anything, and in the process, acquires a vast amount of information being given through comments made and by reading articles posted.  This is not a bad way to learn a lot about any given topic, while learning about the people who shape those thoughts or trends.

In the end, however, the lurker loses out. Social media is not only about communicating information, but it’s also about the connections made through this kind of communications. Communication with each other is the key to why we can have discussions or debates on issues.  The person who writes those posts or tweets those tweets appreciates it when you retweet, or even make a brief comment of, “I agree!” or “That was a great article.” It validates the position of the author, but it also shows your competence in the subject matter too–that you understand the concept being presented.  By respectfully responding with your own commentary, it allows others to see YOUR perspective as well. You automatically become part of the conversation and the process.

Don’t be a lurker and sit back for too long. Feel free to participate! You might be surprised to find that your original perspective might be enjoyed and respected by others.


Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

2 thoughts on “What’s wrong with being a lurker?

    1. Thanks! I think in my own mind, I equate “lurker”, like I said, to the wallflower in the corner. I agree that being a participant is better! Being online is easier than doing it in person. (That’s the introvert in me talking. I get more shy the older I get, whereas in my youth, I wasn’t afraid of being outgoing and I was used to being pushed out of the corner into an unwanted spotlight.)

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