Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No Comment

by David G. Woolley

We know who you are and why you don't post.

That's right. And don't run a computer scan for the "cookie" we planted on your hard drive which electronically transfers your name and ISP to Top of the Morning. It can't be traced. We're more advanced than a simple Google tracking code. The moment you viewed this page we reprogrammed your computer screen into a camera. I can see your uneasy smile right now. Say cheese, click on your down arrow key to take the photo and then go here to view your portrait. Go on. Re-read the instructions in the last sentence and then give it a try.

Okay. So you didn't fall for that trick. The truth is, we're not that technically sophisticated at Top of the Morning. We do content, not code. But we do know why you're a lurker not a poster. It has something to do with a college script writing class I took a couple years ago.

All the students were juniors. I had a doctorate. They were a few years out of high school. I was a few years out of graduate school. In the opening lecture the professor congratulated the class for what he perceived as greatness. It was a nice pep talk. But the kid listening to his I-pod, the three girls exchanging phone numbers, and the drama student trying to take off the weird wig and make-up from a previous rehearsal may have missed out on the greatness thing. They did manage to get the syllabus.

The professor said, "You're young, you're creative, you're on the cutting edge. The modern student is full of inventiveness, you snap with edginess, and you're willing to take a chance."

He must have been talking about the kid sitting next to me. The boy had a base jumping parachute in his backpack. I'm not sure how that made him a better writer than the girl in a full leg cast. I never found out how she broke her femur and tibia in four places but she was wearing an X-games T-shirt and she came to class on a BMX bike equipped with tow hooks for her crutches.

The professor was from the commercial writing industry. A spot man. He'd spent the past x-number of years writing edgy, hip, pop culture thirty second ads for television. When he finished his first-day-of-class pep talk complete with an autobiographical introduction he said, "Does anyone have any questions?"

I was sitting in the second row. He glanced at my raised hand and then said, "Very well, if there are no questions, we'll see you Wednesday at 9:00 am."

It was a silent shot across the bow. Apparently I wasn't edgy enough, hip enough or pop culture enough to participate in class discussions. In three months I was never allowed to say a word. By mid semester I was sitting on the back row. By finals I was in the corner. It was a good course. I learned a lot. But from the first day there was an uncomfortable tension between the professor and me. He never looked me in the eye. And he never gave the seasoned-writers-are-nice-people-too lecture I yearned to hear.

Posting a comment online has the potential for that same uncomfortable tension. What if someone disagrees with you? What if you're ridiculed? What if there's hostility splattered all over the comments page? Its just too ugly a scene to imagine. So instead you lurk just below the radar where neither "cookies" nor cookie professors can threaten. I understand. I sat on the back row too.

Then there's that other reason not to post a comment. Public revelations. Scrutiny. Living in a fish bowl. Call it what you like, its similar to a coaching staff on which I once worked. One of the members took pleasure in accusations, goading and insults. Sometimes it was outlandish. One day he finally came after me. That's when I decided I'd had enough. I said, "It's been my experience that people accuse others of the sins they're most comfortable committing." It takes one to know one. In this guys case, no one wanted to know.

So there's that other reason you lurkers don't post. What will people think of you? What if they find out you're a democrat? What if they disagree with your child rearing philosophy? What if you're rejected online and forced into cyber exile? Instead of revealing too much of yourself you reveal nothing. You lurk in silence. Gathering intel on all the posters, but never joining them.

Or more likely, you just don't have time.

Whatever the reason, in honor of all you non-poster types, I give you the Top of the Morning top 10 reasons why lurkers don't post:

*Editors note: All of these top 10 reasons were taken from previous comments of actual anonymous posts left here at Top of the Morning.

Number Ten
I thought the text I.D. box was for credit card information.

Number Nine
My lower case "I" key st*cks and I look *ll*terate when I wr*te.

Number Eight
I haven't done my hair this morning. When you click submit the computer screen takes a photo.

Number Seven
My anti-war activist uncle posted a comment about the C.I.A. and no one's seen him since.

Number Six
If my friends found my post they'd for sure think I was insecure. Maybe.

Number Five
If mankind were meant to post we'd all have have been blessed with a digital brain. (*We tracked this post from Coure'de'laine Idaho)

Number Four
I haven't had a computer error in over a week. I haven't had a computer error in over a week. I haven't had a computer error in over a week. I haven't had a computer error in over a week.

Number Three
My kids forgot the password

Number Two
Posting increases spam. I got like ten emails about that.

Number One
The Internet is evil. I never use it.

Have a great day and the next time you're in the neighborhood, post a comment. We promise you won't be abducted by aliens and we won't take your photo.


P.S. We also promise to return your missing anti-war activist uncle.

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog


nascent said...

Yes, I'm a people watcher. I like to read people in person and on blogs. Your blogs gives me hope. Hope in the sense that there are people who have wit, wisdom and writing skills. Hope in the fact that people care to remember and continue learning from their memories. Hope that by reading your blog I will be a better person for doing so.

David G. Woolley said...

Thanks nascent. Please come back and leave a comment about the topics here. Your take on things is as vital as anyone's. And bring a friend. Its a lot more fun when we you have someone to post with.

All the best.

David G. Woolley

David G. Woolley said...

I have also noticed that the No Comment post has had a rather chilling effect on the posting here at the Top of the Morning. Did I hit an exposed nerve? Ouch!

Okay, I promise. Less introspection and more, I don't know, news. Will that scare off fewer lukers? Maybe convert some Lurkers into posters?

I have saved Friday's post back in the hopes that someone would at least ask if there was going to be one. As punishment for not posting all of you lurkers, I am not posting the Fear or Faith post until...well, until I finish writing it on Saturday.

And don't miss out on HINDSIGHT this weekend. There's a lot to look back on this week.


David G. Woolley

Sandra said...

The main reason I quit telling people in my ward that I was majoring in psychology. They all quit talking to me because they were afraid I would analyze everything they said.

Anonymous said...


I think I'm going to stop posting immediately. If you do analyze me, be kind.

David G. Woolley

Sandra said...

No analyzing from me, I promise. I still need a couple more years of paying tuition before I can do that for real. For now, I just use it on jr. high students.

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