Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to Fail at Social Media

Step 1: Get a blog.

Step 2: Start writing on the blog, promising to update it regularly with entertaining tales of your work life, advice to aspiring students, and essays on the importance of coalition-building and advocacy.

Step 3: Receive emails (all of them informative, interesting, and encouraging) about recent blog posts.

Step 4: Freeze.

Step 5: Begin letting emails pile up. As they accumulate, become more and more stressed out about not finding the time or the words to answer them.

Step 6: The weight of the many unanswered emails (some from several months ago) should now be sufficiently oppressive that you feel guilty even thinking about blogging, tweeting, facebooking, or otherwise interacting with the internet.

Step 7: Continue not answering them. Continue not blogging. Keep at a low simmer for several months.

Step 8: ?

--

Yep, that's about the state of things. Sadly, my StenoKnight-related output has sunk drastically from the halcyon days of NatCapVidMo. I've got emails in my "@reply" folder dating back to October. Yikes. I keep telling myself, "There are only 67 of them. Just answer about five a day, and you'll be done in less than two weeks." But then the new urgent emails come in, I answer those instead, and the old ones get postponed another day. The inertia of not blogging builds on itself, and the whole idea of participating actively in a public forum gets more intimidating the less I do it. It's a sinkhole I want to get out of, but can't quite figure out how.

I get caught up in the daily churn of editing CART transcripts, sending out invoices, transcribing mp3s for my medical journal clients, prepping play scripts for captioning, and CARTing at five different universities every week, often starting at 6:00 a.m. (at least it's not 5:00 a.m. anymore, since Daylight Savings Time kicked in and brought me back into alignment with the time zone of my Caribbean-based remote CART client) and finishing up at 10:00 p.m., then realizing that there's not much time left over. I've definitely gotten a lot better about getting transcripts and invoices done on schedule without procrastinating, which was something that overwhelmed me a lot when I first started out, but I'm still having trouble getting in the habit of snatching those few spare minutes at a time -- in the break between classes, on the subway, at night before turning in -- and using them productively instead of frittering them away on webcomics or random YouTube videos.

On the plus side, I've continued to read Twitter pretty regularly, even though I've been tweeting quite a bit less than I used to. And even though my @reply folder still stares balefully at me whenever I log in to Gmail, at least I've managed to achieve Inbox Zero consistently for the last several weeks, with everything tidied up and shunted into its own digital pile. But this morning on the bus to work I listened to the social media episode of Freelance Radio and decided that something had to change. This paralysis isn't useful. I'm still going to answer all those emails eventually, but I'm not going to let them keep me from blogging. In a few weeks, my CART work will start tapering off and I'll be ready to shift gears into summer. Hopefully I'll be able to post a few things before then, but if not, I'm definitely going to make a firm commitment to set a significant portion of my time aside for interacting with CART clients and colleagues, reading the latest Deaf/HoH advocacy news, and pontificating about all the interesting issues I encounter on the job. There are all too few of us CART/Captioning professionals and consumers blogging these days (shout-out to StenoRay, Norma, Michael Janger, ACS, I Heart Subtitles, and the CCAC), and I want to do my part to keep the conversation going.

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