poster vs. lurker

I’ve been writing a lot lately, more than I have probably ever in my life. I used to journal a lot, but other than the occasional inspired sitting, my journaling was usually quite mundane and repetitive: “Please God, help me not like <insert some guy’s name here> so much, so that I can concentrate on school and other things.” Lame stuff like that. Today, I’ve got a couple column ideas in the works, there’s this slowing growing and evolving chapter of some potential future book on my hard drive, and then my near-obsessive posting on both and, more recently, the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum.

A few weeks ago I had dinner with some college friends, we got on the topic of web forums, and which of us were “posters” and which of us were “lurkers.” I am 100% poster, as was one of the other friends present, the same one who succeeded me as the Opinion Editor at the Daily Cardinal years back. It makes sense, but I never thought much about those distinctions, and what they say about one’s personality.

Like my fellow former editor, I can be rather outspoken, especially among friends and family, moreso among my closest friends. Regular readers may also remember that I have been described as loud. I love exchanging opinions, reading the thoughts of others, banter and sparring. And I admit, there are times I prefer the setting of a web forum over face-to-face conversation, but that is of course because I am a writer far more than a verbal communicator. Every day I fight a losing battle against my tendency for verbosity, and particularly, for inundating others with needless details.

Hopefully this will come in handy one day when I write my first novel, or memoir. I hope they won’t be bored.

I like being a “poster” though, I like feeling part of a group, even if they are essentially strangers, that communicate on different levels about the same idea. The immigration web site has been enormously helpful to me during the past seven months. This weekend, I happened to be in Madison and was reminded that one of the women I correspond with on that forum lives there. We met and had drinks and chatted about our stories and encounters with immigration.

Considering how incredibly individualized our American lives have become, I’m thankful for any places that allow people to express themselves openly, read and write and interact, share information, and grow.


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