Many of my friends are far more talkative online than they are in person, and I am the exact opposite. I read blog posts and articles, and never comment on them. I lurk on forums and never post. In fact, if it weren’t for the blog that I’m writing now, I’d probably continue to just lurk online, never offering my own opinion.
I have a fear of making comments. Every time I write a reply to any blog – which I’ve probably done twice in my life – it usually takes me hours to make sure my words are right. And even then, sometimes I give up altogether and just erase the comment entirely. I never know what to say. Even if I do find some words, I wonder about their impact. I never know how my comments will be perceived; unlike in a face-to-face conversation, I can’t use context and body language to determine anything. Comments also aren’t instantaneous like typical conversation; will timing matter? How can I say something meaningful without writing three paragraphs? Is it too late to comment if two days have passed? Will people think I’m weird if I comment a minute after they post something?
Perhaps I just think too much. Thinking takes time, after all.
The funny thing is that I’m not afraid at all to make a fool of myself in life. On the streets, I’m a talkative, somewhat spontaneous person. But that’s because in conversation, time matters. If I spent too long thinking of a response, a conversation stops, and I could lose my chance. So I take my chances and say what’s on my mind.
Online, time is not a problem. I have all the time in the world, and then I never end up saying anything. So I lurk and lurk, and through my reading, I see the worlds that the writers and bloggers and commenters inhabit. I learn more about people who I’ve never met before, that I probably wouldn’t ever recognize if I chanced upon them in the street.
Because I don’t ever really offer insight of my own, those people know next to nothing about me. In fact, maybe they don’t even know that I’m there, that I exist, reading their work. So even more, I don’t say anything, because I don’t know how I will be perceived, or if I want to be perceived. But at the same time, I want to be able to tell people when I enjoy their work or when I have something to say.
I think too much, and so never get to say anything.