Words nearby lurking
ABOUT THIS WORD
What is lurking?
Where does lurking come from?
The verb lurk is an old one, dating back to the 1300s. Originally meaning “to hide” or “to lie hidden,” the term took on the additional sense of “to move about secretly” by the 1400s. Lurk got new life in the digital age, when people began lurking on early internet forums. This use is attested as early as 1983.
Internet lurking involves visiting a site and browsing its content, but never posting or commenting oneself. The practice has been formally studied, in fact, since at least 2001. On the one hand, lurking has been shown to negatively impact one’s mental health and self-esteem. On the other hand, it can make socializing (at least passively) with online communities easier.
Sometimes I feel like socializing and tweeting. Other times (most of the time) I just enjoy lurking. I suck at social media
— Erik (Rideae) (@RideaeSSB) April 22, 2017
There was a spate of research and writing on lurking in 2015–16, much of which focused on Facebook, where many users feel that it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of idly looking at many different profiles without creating content of their own.
The so-called “1% rule of the internet” says 90-99% of users on a website are lurkers. Some social media websites combat lurking, intentionally or not, with features that reveal who is watching their posts (as on Instagram) or who views their profile (LinkedIn).
How is lurking used in real life?
Gathering information and feeling out a website’s vibe are all reasons people lurk, and this form of the practice is generally referred to in a neutral or joking way. Online forums and social communities with niche interests tend to draw a lot of lurkers who don’t feel the need to contribute.
Lurking became especially used, however, in the 2010s in the context of poking around on the social media of an ex-partner or other romantic interests. (Insta-lurking is a related popular term, specific to Instagram) This is also called orbiting, and is generally looked upon as creepy.
First ghosting, then they say orbiting: lurking in the "Views" and "likes" of Stories and photos. I'd like to also formally submit "submarining" in that spectrum, a term I heard from a friend where they disappear and resurface every few months. #tinder https://t.co/6sHg8xKj6M
— vancitylor (@lorialeo) February 7, 2019
Lurking has increasingly taken on a negative tone, implying one is being nosy or spying, like a digital form of eavesdropping.
More examples of lurking:
“A few weeks later, I send him and probably ten other people a Snapchat in which I’m wearing a sports bra and pants. I get a “Don’t you know I have a girlfriend?! This is totally inappropriate” message, and suddenly I’m blocked on all his socials. I’m guessing his girlfriend had seen him lurking and finally got fed up.”
—Beca Grim, The Cut, May 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use lurking in a sentence
They work in a world filled with a sense—real or imagined—of danger lurking around each corner and every hallway.Any Outrage Out There for Ramos and Liu, Protesters?|Mike Barnicle|December 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
There, Jesse once again spotted Wahlberg and his friends lurking.Mark Wahlberg’s Pardon Plea: A Look Back At His Troubling, Violent, and Racist Rap Sheet|Marlow Stern|December 7, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Someone called him a hermit crab lurking in the halls of the United Nations.The Man Who Invented the Word ‘Genocide’|Nina Strochlic|November 19, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But when modern-day conservationists surveyed the offshore rocks they discovered something even more ethereal lurking within.What Made Mexico’s Most Mysterious Beach?|Brandon Presser|October 14, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I never suspected a jazz singer might be lurking behind the meat suit, or inside the large plexiglass egg.Can Lady Gaga Do Jazz?|Ted Gioia|September 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And they drove away the people of Israel into lurking holes, and into the secret places of fugitives.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version|Various
Any lurking danger of too great speculative restlessness disappeared.The Daughters of Danaus|Mona Caird
For a moment he was deceived by her acting; he did not see the lurking grin in the depths of her eyes.You Never Know Your Luck, Complete|Gilbert Parker
The same Providence whispered, that murky night, of the danger and disaster lurking near.A Fortune Hunter; Or, The Old Stone Corral|John Dunloe Carteret
From these lurking places the pirate ships would dash out to capture vessels and then hurry back to their haunts.Stories of Our Naval Heroes|Various