No Longer an Accidental Lurker

2015 is off to a burst of activity already. The primary lesson I’ve experienced personally is to remember to connect online.

I don’t know if you fall into the same trap that I do at times.  I listen, perhaps too much.  It has led me to being a lurker. I observe well, but often don’t engage in the ways that I should.  I have become an accidental lurker.

Daily Routines

I want to be in-the-know on what’s happening online.  I wake up and scan the blogs that I subscribe to over my morning coffee. I share what’s important of that content for those that should know.  It’s a strategy that has worked really well for me in Twitter and Google+.

By now, most days I’ll have my podcasts playing at 1.5 speed. I am always learning.

Next, I scan all my social media accounts.  I don’t just broadly look for alerts to things I’ve shared or commented on.  I actually am meticulous about organizing my electronic life.  I have lists in Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (circles) to see all those that are most important to me, including industry leaders.  I know what’s happening and filter out what doesn’t matter from ever reaching my eyes.

I jump over to Youtube next and look at the channels that I subscribe to, and post any interesting videos (usually related to WordPress, tech, or cooking) into my “Watch Later” list.  I have this playing while I am working on other things.

I absorb timely relevant news, hobby content, and inspiration for my faith constantly.  I also tune out all the information and jump in to books and curated playlists in Spotify music.

Clearly – I’ve got the “listen” thing down.

Enough Listening

But here’s the thing… I haven’t been engaging with other people.  I know stuff, but I’m weak on relationships.  I realized recently how much change needs to happen here.

A fellow WordPress developer recently passed away. I hardly knew Kim Parsell.  We’d been at a few conferences together and I knew of her.  But, I didn’t really know her.  Much of the core WordPress community, those that really make WordPress possible, chat throughout their days in Twitter.   Lately, the conversation there is around how stunned they all are that she’s passed. For me, it’s more stunning that I barely met this brilliant lady that others so greatly mourn.

I have watched the conversations and learned a good deal from them. I feel like I know them.  But really, I’m just lurking there. I haven’t stepped up to say hello.  As a result, I will miss Kim at conferences and all her hard work on leading the Docs team (they document the information that helps developers get unstuck).  But worse still, I have missed an opportunity to get to know someone that is dearly missed within the community because I never really said hello.

Likewise, in Facebook with my closest friends that I see offline… I merely click “like” to tell the Facebook newsfeed to show me more of their content. I don’t extend the relationships further very often.

In Google+, I’ve become more of a broadcaster than anything.  Though I scan content in communities, reply to comments on my posts, and occasionally leave a few comments… I feel as though the past 2 years I’ve just been floating along.

Even on my own blog, I haven’t bothered to create any content. I haven’t bothered to share here what can help others. I haven’t really made myself accessible. I’ve absorbed and reshared other’s insights, but haven’t put my own thoughts together in ages.

Community and Engagement

So, 2015’s focus for me… build community by engagement.

I don’t mean build “my community” … I mean – include all those who would want to be included. Help them connect with each other. There are more opportunities than just those at WordCamps when I meet first time attendees that look bewildered. After some helpful conversation, they are on their way to navigating the WordPress community.  But, in my daily life, I can make time for connecting with friends as well.  It isn’t about always helping them, but also about just seeing them for who they are and appreciating that.

Likewise… it’s time for a new version of how I become part of any community.  I must be mindful to interact and share of myself.  It’s awkward at times. Who am I that “they” should listen to me? Or the painfully annoying and awkward feeling that I have shared what they needed to know and yet “they” disregard me; I am not considered.  Both ends of this spectrum are dangerously bad for their own reasons.  It’s challenging to be part of community. It’s easier to stay quiet and distant, but in the end, it’s far more rewarding to jump in and make something of this opportunity. Whether professionally or personally, I can no longer drift and just observe. Life can pass one by that way. It’s time to get involved.

How about you?  What do you do to find community?  Have you struggled with becoming and accidental lurker?


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