3: “To Let Others Know They Are Not Alone”: Lurking and Community

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Utilizing data from neighbourhood Facebook groups, this chapter analyses the ways that offline relationships influence online behaviour. This chapter argues that receptive reading, protective curation, and participatory restraint are lurker literacies readers engage in on social media to gratify desires to preserve their offline relationships with members of their community. Receptive reading occurs when a person wants to closely, and anonymously, read a social media commenting thread with the express purpose of understanding a divergent point of view. Protective curation is when a person reads to collect information to protect their socioeconomic status. This includes gathering information to professionally advance in one’s career and/or to maintain the perceived quality of their community life. Participatory restraint is a strategic choice whereby a person will purposefully not respond to an inflammatory social media post. A reader will purposefully refrain from commenting, liking, or sharing their dissent via publicity metrics. These efforts are sometimes taken individually and are sometimes collectively decided by a group using alternate, non-social media, communication methods.

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