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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.
Example sentences from the Web for lurking
I never suspected a jazz singer might be lurking behind the meat suit, or inside the large plexiglass egg.
It seeks to neuter the criticism of any lurking Paltrow naysayers wishing to transfer their negativity to Lively.
Can you imagine Walters, his executive-producing partner, post-May 16, lurking with him behind the cameras?
They are lurking with only their most trusted confidantes in shadowy corners.
Lurking in the wings of course is the deep state, and in particular the military.Morsi-less: Are Egyptians Done with the Muslim Brothers?|Hussein Ibish|July 1, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The lurking sadness in the air just touched and soothed the lurking sadness in Di's mind.Diana Tempest, Volume II (of 3)|Mary Cholmondeley
Who knows what may be lurking in the old house, to rise up some day as a witness against us!
They stood where the flat of the desert broke and tilted down in grooves and bulges deep to the lurking Columbia.The Jimmyjohn Boss and Other Stories|Owen Wister
A man who had been lurking in the shadow of a building on the opposite side of the road crossed to him.The Green Rust|Edgar Wallace
It covers the shelves of the great Oxford-Street librarian, lurking in the covers of three-volume novels.Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti|T. Hall Caine