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Should I Take This Personally?

Let’s face it: Life can, and often does, stink.

I mean some days it feels like no matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put into something, there’s always a surprise waiting to either bean you with a reality snowball, or give you one of those life-wedgies that makes you wonder why you even try in the first place.

I’ve been living proof of this for close to 2 years now, and let me tell you it’s not fun. From financial headaches, to growing tensions at home, to now living with my sister as my wife and I try to sort some things out, I have been and am still going through a personal hell as of late. With the combined pressure from work and home, quite truthfully I’m amazed I’ve stayed sane as long as I have.

I’m not saying my situation is unique by any stretch. I imagine a lot of people go through this kind of shit on a regular basis, and deal with it in their own ways. What maybe puts a spin on my life is the fact that on top of all this I’m trying to carve out a space in the New Media sphere as well, which if you’re going to do it right, you have to make a commitment to it. Be it time, money, or whatever, if you want to run in the podosphere, you have to contribute.

Over the past 13 months I’ve had to work two jobs, both of which were extremely demanding. I’ve torn down our company’s website twice and put it back up, I’ve delivered over 100,000 newspapers in that amount of time, and I’ve pushed my pressure coping abilities beyond any semblance of a normal limit. I’ve seen sides of myself in the past year that I never knew I had, and in retrospect wish I’d never seen.

So you can imagine my initial reaction to a comment made by a listener to my novel when they say that unless there’s an update soon, they’ll have to unsubscribe to it.

Incensed? Sure…at first. I’ve never been one to take threats well, no matter how sublime or severe they might be. Now, of course this comment could have been made in fun…maybe with a dash of sarcasm thrown in as an attempt at a general nudge to get me off my butt. If so, then I waaaaaaaaaaaay over-reacted initially to it, but it does bring up a valid point: Should we take it so personally when someone unsubscribes?

Years ago, Scott Sigler’s podcast novel ‘Infection’ (the predecessor to ‘Infected’) sparked a bit of controversy from one of its listeners. In one scene, Perry Dawsey (the main character) threatened to hurt a woman. After that episode aired, one listener emailed Scott and said she was un-subscribing from the novel because of the misogynistic tone the book now had.

Now, to Scott’s credit, he reacted fairly well, stating that yes, his book wasn’t for everyone, and he wouldn’t harsh anyone for unsubscribing. I mean hey, it’s the person’s choice to subscribe or not. Still, I can only imagine the initial reaction.

I’ve looked at my Podiobooks stats off and on since putting ‘Outcast’ up on there, and while the numbers of subscribers have been increasing, so have the numbers of folks who’ve unsubscribed. Granted, the ratio still greatly favours the subscriber side, and for that I’m eternally grateful. 99% of the feedback I’ve been getting has been more than encouraging, and a real beacon to me in this rather chaotic sea I’ve been sailing in as of late.

I know mine’s not the only podcast to have people unsubscribe. People with infinitely more talent and a larger listener base must see fluctuations in their numbers that would make my eyes bug out of my head. I guess you need to have somewhat of a thick skin in the world of web 2.0, because not everyone’s going to necessarily ‘like’ you, and some may even drop your podcast due to disinterest or prolonged periods of silence.

I guess all you can really do is shrug your shoulders, look at your calendar, and move on. Unless it’s your main source of income, podcasting / web 2.0 work is little more than a hobby, and should really only be fostered when you have time and energy to spare. Should things come up along the way, they need to take priority and as much as it may hurt, you have to shelf your hobby until you’ve dealt with everything else.

If your hobby involves interacting with an audience via the Net, then the most you can do is ask for their understanding that there might be delays in content delivery because of life’s little curve-balls. I mean hey, for a while Tee Morris when nearly dark during his re-doing of Morevi for one reason or another…and his book was already written!

So, in conclusion, I guess I’ve answered my own question. Should I take it personally when someone tells me they’re unsubscribing? No. Just shrug your shoulders, brush it off, and get back to living. It’s all you can do.

Chris Hvidsten

3 Comments

  1. Don’t worry about it! What you and other podcasters do is greatly appreciated by most listeners. Those that complain when an episode is late are just frustrated that they can’t listen to their favourite story when they expect to. They could show some understanding of the hard work you put into writing and podcasting the story and remember the fact that you are doing this for free.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. I have really enjoyed listening to Outcast and I will be waiting impatiently on more episodes. I usually do not start listening to an uncompleted story because I like to listen day and night until finnished but this story intrigued me to start listening in the hope of more episodes soon. I completely understand that life can get in the way of writing, reading, editing and putting an episode online. Life and work needs to come in first line.
    Sending inspiration your way for words to form more episodes.

    Happy writing!

  3. Don’t let that kind of stuff get you down. I’d be willing to say any true fans will stay with you through the month long posting gaps; I have. You have a good reason for not updating. Your life should come before this, you deserve it to yourself.

    And if you still need cheering up remember, with each unsubscriber you distill your fan base to truer and truer fans. The internet is somewhere where quality matters over quantity (except twitter, where everyone is a follower whore).

    Do this because you like it. Realize that if other people don’t like it, it isn’t your fault. You aren’t selling a product, you don’t have deadlines, you don’t have to meet any goals but your own. And if it is causing you unneeded stress, put it aside for a bit. I’m sad when I check and see no new updates, but I’m not going to leave over it. I still want to know how the story will end 😛

    Cheers and good wishes, James.

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