There have been some great pieces here in the last week about those lurking at Newsvine. I dedicate this to those lurkers who don't comment but still read articles by me and others.
Me, I do my lurking in "real life," as some call it. I know I've claimed to be more quiet and shy in person and I'm also aware that some find that hard to believe.
But tonite I received proof.
I went to the open mic nite I go to every week at the local Port City Java and when I showed up it was standing room only. I usually grab a comfy chair where I can sit, listen and read Newsvine discussions while offline. For a few awkward moments tonight, though, there was nowhere to sit. Then the m.c. moved his stuff and I took my usual place as I ate a turkey blt wrap.
Then a singer came up and in between doing covers of two Johnny Cash songs he said something to the effect of how there's a guy who he always sees here, sitting in the same chair, watching the performers while typing on his laptop but he has never seen that guy speak.
I looked around to determine the identity of that rude predictable shy jerk he is describing. Then he says, "Scott, it's good to see you back in your usual chair." Embarrassed I realize everyone – ok, 25 people – are looking at me. What to say? I shrug, using the logic of "why speak when one doesn't have to?" which is practically the manta for lurkers, right?
After he finished I went over and shook the guy's hand and demanded, "What do you mean I never talk?" He said that this is the first time he has ever seen me speaking.
Well, I shrugged again and sat and pondered this. It's true I don't sing or play any instruments – I am not musically inclined which is another reason why it's a good thing I quit marching band (another big factor being that I was unable to both march and play an instrument at the same time)
I see my job at these open mic nites as being the regular guy who comes and sits and applauds at the appropriate time. I've seen times when performers get no applause until I applaud and then others, forced to be polite by this peer pressure, join in. It's sort of like Cheers, with everyone knowing my name except without the alcohol and I'd one of the characters with a non-speaking role.
On more than one occasion I've considered announcing, "My name is Scott and I'm a professional listener," or, on slow nites, "My name is Scott and I'll be your audience tonight." See, this is how I figure it: talking matters but listening matters more. Want proof? Read this: my listening manifesto.
To wrap up, three cheers for the lurkers, both on-line and off-line