‘LURKER’ LITERACIES: LIVING IN/THROUGH NEIGHBORHOOD FACEBOOK GROUPS
Although mythologized as a fringe or deviant behavior, ‘lurking,’ or passive participation in an online group, has become a regular part of the way we lead our lives online. My IRB approved dissertation research, which will be completed by AoIR 2020, will examine ‘lurking’ in neighborhood Facebook groups. Through community mapping and interviews of Facebook users enrolled in the same neighborhood Facebook group, this study seeks to describe both the ‘lurker’ literacy practices of Facebook group users and to understand if and how the features of the Facebook social media platform encourage these literacy practices. Given that neighborhood groups are intended for people who live in the same geographic area, there is a likelihood that many members of the group may know one another offline and in real life. Since ‘lurkers’ are groups that are typically not included in academic studies, this research will have broad appeal to scholars across the social sciences. When scholars only examine the role of active contributors and ignore the literacy practices of the silent majority of ‘lurkers’, their findings present an incomplete portrait of the way people engage in participatory culture and how these online experiences influence our offline lives.