Today's parade made me think of something I meant to comment on last week. Last week I got an email from a person who had successfully quit smoking on New Years day of this year and has been visiting and reading at WhyQuit.com and Freedom. Generally the letter was thanking me for having the information available on the Internet, and it was a very positive letter. Her P.S. remark was a little sad though. It was:
"PS - the occasional snide comments from some of the fraternity/sorority about "lurkers" (for me, a new expression, since I just got my home computer in December) can be very painful to read. Also, often unjustified. And perhaps counter-productive, too"
I wrote her back the following comment:
Please don't be discouraged by the term lurker. I am sure we have a whole lot more lurkers at Freedom than we do active members. If a person spends time at Freedom and stays smoke free then he or she is doing great, whether he or she is a member or not. I do have frequent email correspondence from people who for one reason or another never joined Freedom and even from those who used to be members and left. I try to give these people as much priority as I do people who have joined up. If there is ever anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Remember, the only way to stay smoke free for a member, a lurker, or even a person who has never even heard of Freedom, a group that makes up the vast majority of the world population of ex-smokers, is simply understanding that to never get caught in the vice like grip of nicotine addiction again is contingent on the person knowing to never take another puff!
We also had a post put up by a member recently who was apologizing for not having posted in a long time. She was still smoke free and doing fine and I think she said that she was still an active reader at Freedom.
I can see how today's parade title may make some people think that we put an inordinate amount of pressure for our members to post. We never want people to think that posting is any kind of priority to us. The one exception to that statement is that we want people to post at times when they may feel their quits are in trouble, our posting before puffing rule. We want to opportunity to clarify issues with a person in such a state before he or she makes a tragic and often irreversible mistake.
We appreciate when people do take time to help others and make posts to encourage the group, but we don't ever want members to feel that they are under any kind of obligation to post or to feel guilty when they don't have the time to participate. If time is a factor, and a person has a choice of reading numerous posts to reinforce his or her quit or writing just one or two posts to help others, we want the member to know that we want the person to spend that limited time to strengthen his or her own resolve to stay smoke free. Then if an when the time comes when he or she is feeling good and just wants to give back a little we will be thrilled to hear from him or her.
So to all our member and non-member lurkers, we want you to know that we are thrilled that you are here and we hope that you come by often and feel at home and always leave your session a little bit more reinforced to stick to the personal commitment you made to yourself to never take another puff!