Some people get into the pool slowly, inching in bit by bit while others jump in doing a cannonball. In the end both make it into the water to swim. The key to swimming is getting in the water. It does not matter how you do it. Getting out of the water is a different matter. It can be cold and uncomfortable at first. Then you can get used to being out and not want to go through the discomfort of getting in again. Yes – I have spent a fair amount of time at the pool this summer, but I think the metaphor works.
For a variety of reasons, I have spent much of this summer on the side of my PLN pool. I have missed far more #sschats than I have made. I have checked my Twitter feed less regularly. I have sent more links to Evernote with the promise that I will read and sift later. I have been reading the #sschat summer book, but I have not contributed to the discussion. I feel like I am on the side of the pool watching everyone else swim and splash. In essence, I have been doing more lurking than participating.
It is easy to feel like everyone else has so much to offer while sitting on the sidelines. I have come to realize that is it only by interacting with others on Twitter and through commenting on their blogs that I can feel confident and connected. I am missing the conversation, asynchronous and synchronous. I have taken a step back from Web 2.0 to at least 1.5 and sometimes 1.0. It can be very intimidating, and it is definitely much less satisfying. It takes time and effort to cultivate and maintain a PLN, but the alternative is not acceptable to me anymore.
So, for me the problem with lurking comes when participation stops there. I can still get some resources, and some great ideas, but the confidence and the growth really comes from engaging in conversation with others about their ideas, including contributing my own. I spent last spring and summer getting in the pool, but then I got out. It is time to jump back in.