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The future of our call-in events

Discussion in 'About This Site' started by Forest, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi everyone,

    There seems to be a lot of excitement about Joe Dispenza's new book, and @Ellen suggested that we do a call-in book group on it. I like this idea, and am planning on doing a discussion of the book. Before adding anything else, I just wanted to say that this doesn't change that.

    However, after running the Tuesday night call in discussion group for almost 100 weeks, I am finding that I want to focus on other projects. There are a number of projects that feel strategically important in terms of achieving our mission as a nonprofit. In contrast, the call-in discussion group takes a great deal of energy and time, but we only have a small handful of people who call in regularly. The goal of this thread is to get feedback from people regarding their perspectives on the future of the call-in events that we sponsor.

    A main challenge is that overall, search engine traffic for "Tension Myositis Syndrome" has been dropping steadily, for a long time. This makes organizing any program much harder, because of the challenge of achieving a "critical mass."

    I have been thinking for several weeks that the time had come to stop doing the regular call-in events. When I brought this up during last Tuesday's group, people said that there was simply something about being able to hear other people's voices that helped give them hope and keep them going. However, when I asked for volunteers to help with the group, no one offered. Perhaps because we didn't record the session, the discussion was excellent, with people opening up more, so I decided to continue the group every other week, without the book group aspect and as more of an open conversation. I am a very slow reader, so this may help a lot. We'll see how it goes.

    We also have a chatroom every Saturday, from 3-4PM ET. To some degree, I think that the Tuesday call-in group and the Saturday chatroom compete with one another for those people who want interactive support. Therefore, if we stopped the Tuesday night group altogether, there would hopefully be a larger audience for the Saturday group.

    We may be able to recruit other book discussion groups. (Let us know if you might be interested! It is a great service to the community.) I may be willing to run some myself. Having an audiobook version be available, or having already read the book, makes a big difference for me. I've recently read Howard Schubiner's new book about anxiety and depression as TMS and thought it was excellent. From AdWords data, there is currently 8 times as many Google searches for "Joe Dispenza" than for "John Sarno"* and I want to know what the fuss is all about.

    * This is according to data from Google Adwords' keyword research tool, which I take to be the most accurate. The data from Google Trends put the ratio at closer to 4.

    One thing that we could try out is having the call-in group meet every other week, and having half of the meetings be book discussion groups and half of the meetings be unrecorded open discussions. Thus, we would have a book discussion group every four weeks and an open discussion group every four weeks. Having groups less regularly seems to make them more special, which means that more people will show up, causing a snowball effect and making it easier to reach critical mass.

    Anyway, we do all of these events for you folks, so I thought it was important to get your feedback. Any thoughts or opinions? What sort of events would you be most excited about, and what sort of events might you be willing to volunteer in?

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns regarding the call-in discussions. I can understand that it has been a lot of work for you.

    Maybe one solution is to rotate the facilitation role each session. People would need to sign up for a specific date and the discussion wouldn't start until someone has volunteered for each date. If we go to a monthly book club discussion, then that is not a big commitment.

    I don't know what the solution is about getting people to speak up when the session is being recorded. I'm one of those that feel intimidated by being recorded. But I also like hearing the recordings when I'm not able to participate in the discussion because I'm not in the US all the time. I shouldn't have been so quick to recommend that we discuss Dispenza's book, since due to travel for my job, I may not be able to participate regularly. I just find the concepts so interesting and would love to discuss them with other interested persons, as my own friends aren't interested enough to read the book. I agree that Dr. Schubiner's new book on anxiety and depression is exceptional, as well as revolutionary in viewing these disorders as mindbody syndromes (though as I write this, I think of course they are), and would make an interesting discussion too--if people participate.

    I've found that it is difficult to have good book group discussions under any circumstances, but then when you add the component of a group of people who are struggling with pain, and maybe anxiety and other challenges, as well as the fact that we are a global community living in different time zones, it makes it harder. I'm interested in reading others' thoughts and proposed solutions on this topic.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2014
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, I was disappointed in the number of people who took part in the Tuesday call-ins.
    I agree that you ought to cancel them and focus on the Saturday call-ins. See how that goes.
  4. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I've been mulling over your post, Forest, for a couple of days. As you know, I was a regular on both the Tuesday call and the Saturday chat for a time. Then I took on some other projects and really just burned myself out. I think Ellen is so right that the people who hang out on this forum "are struggling with pain, and maybe anxiety and other challenges." We came here to get help, primarily. When we feel better, most of us move on with our lives. It's really only those who are chronic tms-ers who are motivated to stick around and make the wiki an important part of our lives. In a sense, the forum is a victim of its own success.

    The only solution I can think of is to ask people to help without being to be too surprised if they don't. Most likely they feel they can't handle it. If they could, they would, being tms-ers! I'd hate to see the Tuesday call or the Saturday chat eliminated but totally get it that you may have to cut back. Still, I'd rather see a call/chat with only a few people than no call/chat at all. I'm still a regular on Karen Locke's call but usually there are only two or three of us. Karen would love to have more callers but, to tell the truth, I'm happy with a smaller group. It's way less stressful.

    Anyway, I'm still struggling with "bugs" but am, in general, feeling better. I'll call in this evening, unless I "forget". Much as I hate when that happens, it's usually a signal that some part of me doesn't want to. I'll do my best to override all objections!

    It's sad to hear that TMS and Dr. Sarno continue to drop on google search. What the heck?! Is the human race hardwired to act against its own best interests? It would seem so.
  5. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good question! For most it seems so, hence TMS as a PROTECTOR, as the Good Doctor theorizes. It's a defense mechanism trying to protect us against ourselves. Perhaps it's social Darwinism, attempting to unite us for survival through the common pain--"How you doin' today?" "My back hurts." "Oh, I have the best surgeon, he just fused my L4/L5's, I'm feeling great!--but my plantar fasciitis is kicking up again, I've got an appointment with the best running podiarist." It's part of our evolution to incorporate the computer/internet/social networking revolution.
    BruceMC likes this.
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, we just had a nice call-in. It was a nice, casual, relaxing open discussion among 6 TMSers. There was one newcomer and 5 more experienced folks, so we spent most of the time discussing the newcomer's questions. It was nice to meet people and hear their voices.

    Many thanks to everyone for their feedback in this thread. I read it all very carefully and found it all very helpful. Thanks again for taking the time to write.

    In the long term, I'm leaning toward moving to meeting once a month, perhaps something like the second Saturday of each month, from 2-3 (right before the drop-in chat room, in case people want to continue their discussions there). If people wanted to prepare content, that would be great, but if not, we could just have an open discussion, like tonight's. I'd be willing to periodically run a book group for books I was interested in (like Dispenza's and Schubiner's. There are a number of other books as well). I asked for volunteers last Tuesday and no one stepped forward, so I'm trying to keep my expectations reasonable.

    In terms of the forum being a victim of it's own success and people moving on after the heal, it's definitely true that some people do that. On the other hand, I also see more and more people sticking around as well, which is wonderful to see. Old faces may disappear for a while, but they always seem to reappear again and are always welcome when they do. I may be particularly sensitive to this since I've been around since the beginning, but I do see an awful lot of familiar faces, and it always puts a smile on my face

    People do move on, but once you've gone through the SEP and connected with people, you never forget it. If you ever need a "knowledge penicillin" booster shot or just want to know what is up, you know where to come.

    Over time, my goal is to cater more and more to these "veterans." They have a tremendous amount to offer and we want to keep them connected to the community. One way to do this is by making it easier for them to follow their friends on the forum:
    The idea is that if we make it easier to keep up with people, people will return more frequently. The idea for the tutorial was actually inspired by a message from @Ellen. :)

    Eventually, I'd also like to combine many of the subforums so that we only have maybe 7 or 8 instead of the 16 we currently have. We could use "thread prefixes" so it's still easy to find exactly what you are looking for. There are many reasons to do this, but one of the reasons is to make it so that veterans can, if they want, drop by less frequently and still find discussions they like without being overwhelmed. With a more streamlined set of subforums, this should be much easier to do.

    If anyone else has additional feedback, please share your thoughts!
  7. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    I would love to host a book study (when I feel I can do it w/o too many tms repercussions) but really can't imagine being able to handle the technical aspects. In the last 3 calls I joined, my telephone caused an echo (on speaker or not on speaker, didn't matter). This didn't used to happen. Also, I couldn't hear anything one caller said which made it impossible to follow the conversation. The thought of trying to host under these circumstances is ... words fail me but aaarrrghhh! comes close.
    Well said. Also, I'm glad to hear that most people do come back. We need them just as much as they need us.

    Another thought: it seems that men often dominate the calls and women are left out. I know you try hard to include women, Forest, but as the conversation grows more heated women tend to be heard less and less until, sometimes, their voices vanish. As you know, I've tried to help with this situation but can't, obviously, while muted to prevent my echo! I did try to make some comments through the chat room but that didn't work either.

    I'm really not complaining about any of this. It just is. Running a call, solo, is probably impossible, but it's also inevitable that stuff happens and people drop out. If once a month works, great.

    The ideas about streamlining the forums sound excellent. We are so very grateful for all your hard work, Forest. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
    Ellen likes this.

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