The Lurker

In accordance with the global shift toward blogging and online deliberation, American education has successfully integrated online, technological elements with physical, face-to-face in class schooling. Lecturing, discussions, and student workshopping and tutoring are handled in the classroom. Written assignments are posted online, and every student posts their work to their own blog. This makes it public and in addition to comments from classmates, the discussion is opened up to the entire world- assessment of quality on a global scale. And in a world where everyone is blogging…

Tyler, 15, is a shy boy. The kind that doesn’t speak unless spoken to, who looks at the floor the majority of the time. The kind that often gets called “fag” and “homo” by his classmates. And now, in ninth grade, the blog work begins. Tyler had excelled in his seventh grade computer literacy class, as well as his fifth and third grade ones. He took to computers like a fish to water; anything he didn’t know he could intuit with ease. He enjoys browsing the internet at home and consumes digital mountains of social media. Blogs, news sites, webcomics, even topic forums. But he never posts- he prefers to stay in the virtual shadows. Tyler is a lurker.

They had started blog work in seventh grade, which he also did well at. He had a way with words and was a fast typist. He had no problem structuring his thoughts and wrote well-constructed posts for the school’s contained intranet. Only teachers, administration, and the student author of a post could see it. But now, at the beginning of high school, he will be blogging for every class. He is fine with that. Now, it will serve as a portfolio for colleges to evaluate him and accept or deny him. He is fine with that as well. But now?

It will be public. Every one of his classmates will see everything he posts, a realization so terrifying that he has not even considered that the world will see it. But in this world of every person in every industrialized nation blogging and commenting, with no streaming video to distract them, they will. They definitely will.

X9/13/2X14 5:XX PM

Tyler clicks “Publish” on his first public blog post. His first public words ever- spoken, written, or posted. He had tried to rein in his writing- many of the kinds of statements he used to make on his private blog he was afraid to say in front of literally everybody. He browses the work of his fellow students who have finished their assignments, but comment? Not on your life. Ten minutes pass. With his heart in his throat, he checks his blog’s admin page to see if there are any comments. There are none. Relief floods his body like an orgasm. His mother calls him down to dinner. He cleans his plate in record time and waits patiently for dessert while his parents discuss their days at work.

He checks his comments again before he goes to bed- nothing yet. Feeling like has bent backwards beneath a bullet in the Matrix, he goes to bed.

X9/14/2X14 4:X5 PM

Tyler arrives home from school. Feeling that familiar boulder of nervousness in his stomach, he checks his comments. There are no fewer than seven. Hands shaking, he clicks on the button to show them. The first is from a classmate:

Carrie_Surness2X18 at 3:5X PM:
You make some good points here, Tyler, but you didn’t cover every side of the argument. It is a bit one-sided and because of this, is a weak argument. I also got a bit lost in the prose of the sixth paragraph, it could probably use some cleaning up. I loved your bit about Freud!

Tyler stares at his screen, shocked like when you get punched in the face but before the pain sets in. The next comment is similar. So is the next. The next one goes like so:

SomeGuy69 at 2:15 PM:
Hey faggot this shit sucks leave it in your head so the rest of us dont have to suffer kthx

He knows that this was one of his other classmates and the school administration will never find out which, or care. He doesn’t care what they think, but the shock hurts. Not as bad as the next three, however, which all look like this:

CarlKabacha at 11:2X AM:
HOMOSEXUAL UNION FISCAL CLIFF ATHEISM MARIJUANA ABORTION DEATH PENALTY HOMOSEXUAL UNION FISCAL CLIFF ATHEISM MARIJUANA ABORTION DEATH PENALTY HOMOSEXUAL UNION FISCAL CLIFF ATHEISM MARIJUANA ABORTION DEATH PENALTY HOMOSEXUAL UNION FISCAL CLIFF ATHEISM MARIJUANA ABORTION DEATH PENALTY HOMOSEXUAL UNION FISCAL CLIFF ATHEISM MARIJUANA ABORTION DEATH PENALTY

And the word HOMOSEXUAL jumps off the screen at him, striking at his eyes over and over like the gloves of a relentless boxer. The urge to crawl into his bed and stay there forever becomes very powerful. But the only private message he got is what hurts the worst.

Ms_Salina_Hoffen at 8:2X AM:
95/100 Tyler. But this wasn’t your best work. You seem a little restrained in your style, and your conclusions weren’t as bold as they usually…

His mind trails off his teacher’s words. He is unable to read any more. Tyler sinks into his chair as his fragile ego fearfully withdraws, allowing his mind room to create nothing. No more posting. Back to lurking, forever. The fear is just too strong.

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5 responses to “The Lurker

  1. Pingback: Summary: Week IV | Weblog at Gunpoint

  2. This is fantastic. I love the formatting you use to define a comment from the rest of the post. I can only imagine how real this situation is for so many people out there in the world wide web.

  3. Pingback: The Sunday Post (Part whatever week number we’re on) « Mineshaft Mind

  4. Pingback: An All-Time Low: Week V Summary | Weblog at Gunpoint

  5. You’re on to something here, starting with the double-sense of who is lurking and who is producing.

    Teachers lurking on students
    Classmates
    The world

    and finally Tyler.

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