What is lurking? I would define it as visiting a particular place repeatedly but not making any contact with the owner or other frequent visitors like you. You are a regular stranger, so to speak. What is thinking? To define that would be patronising you, because as long as we are human and have wits of any sort, we can think and are thinking already anyway!
I love having visitors in my blog. More visitors means the more chance I may snag a regular reader and hopefully commenter. I know there are lurkers here, as any other established blog would have. I thank you for lurking, even though I wonder who you are! I’m sure if you have been lurking long enough you would know I am a nosy person by nature (my friends can absolutely attest to this uncontrollable curiosity, as I can get answers about things you wouldn’t dare ask a friend, but only because they indulge me, heh).
That said, if I could choose, I would really prefer you not to lurk. That’s why I like widgets like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog, where I can see who’s visited the blog recently. I like knowing what goes on in my blog, including who came and who went. I wish WordPress.com could come up with a widget like that! It could work like how Friendster does it – if you wish to know who’s visited your blog, then you cannot be a lurker yourself and every visit will be logged. On the other hand, if you still value your privacy and want to lurk in peace, then you are not allowed to know who’s lurking on your blog, if you have one. I think that’s a great system – you get to meet lurkers who sometimes don’t lurk intentionally but just do not have anything particular to comment in my writing, and at the same time, respect lurkers who want to stay lurkers.
All that said, I do understand why people lurk because I do it myself too.
1. I lurk because sometimes I don’t have a response to a blogger’s writing; this is just a matter of personal taste. Some things appeal to me more, and some less. Or that I love to read the blog for the sake of reading. It’s like reading a story – you enjoy it, but it doesn’t make you want to go e-mail the author.
2. It also depends on the blogger’s writing style – if he or she puts forth a persuasive argument about an issue but sounds aggressive, I would not leave a comment even if I have an opinion because the blogger seems likely to be offended if my opinion is opposite of his or hers and may be rude in return.
3. I also don’t comment when in previous occasions I did not receive a reply to my comment; I think it is only polite to respond to comments because people take the time and effort to communicate with you.
4. I lurk because I feel intimidated by the blogger or his or her readers. They write so eloquently and knowledgeably about an issue, that my opinion pales in comparison. This is how I am in forums too, and in real life.
Whether you own a blog or not, you’ve done both. Thinking, well, you definitely have to do that, but lurking, you don’t have to! Lurking is very much like thinking. You do it, but very few people, if any, are truly aware of you doing it. While it is fortunate that we can think without people knowing exactly what we are thinking, because there are some things you wouldn’t want people to know you are thinking (!), it is unfortunate too that people cannot know what we think, because thoughts are beautiful, and what a pity it is when you have something thoughtful to appear in your head, but nobody else to appreciate it but yourself.
Which is why I love to blog; it’s a form of thinking out loud. It not only preserves my thoughts, but share them with people. People who I care about, and people who may be thinking the same things that I do. Isn’t it amazing when you read something that echoes exactly what you think or how you feel? Or writes about something that has never occured to you before and made you think and widen your thoughts? As for de-lurking, isn’t it equally amazing to discover who actually reads your blog, people in your life you never thought would? Or how amazing it is to find kindred spirits who feel the same way as you do, so far apart in body but so close in mind?
I think it is amazing.
(Moral of the story: don’t lurk! People may find you amazing.)