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Trying to survive annual #SilenceSree Day

An unusual social-media fundraiser means I have to stay off Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, Instagram, and Pinterest most of today. Will I make it?

An image used for the #SilenceSree fundraising drive. Courtesy: Columbia SPJ chapter

My students at Columbia Journalism School came up with a creative idea last year for a scholarship fundraiser. Instead of the usual bake sales and T-shirt sales, they decided to use social media in an unusual way.

The idea: #SilenceSree Day - getting others to donate money to keep me off Twitter and Facebook for an entire day. Last year at this time, more than 100 people contributed a total of $1,172.25. More than the total, it was more interesting to me that so many people from inside and outside the university chipped in.

Today is #SilenceSree Day again and I'm going to try to get through the entire day, starting at 9 a.m. ET without going on a social network of any kind (I am, however, allowed to use e-mail and scan the general Web).

Here's the explanation from the students' site:

Columbia's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is raising donations for a scholarship fund that will be awarded to one or several students enrolled in the incoming class. We hope this new tradition will continue long after the Class of 2012 graduates.

Boring.The real cause?

Getting Sree to stop tweeting (and Facebooking, Posterousing, Pinteresting, and FourSquaring) for a day.

Here's how last year's class raised money and kept Sree silent.

The goal is 200 people. The percentage of 200 that donates will correspond to the amount of time Sree will be silenced. (Maximum one day. Communication is kind of his job!) If 200 people give, then Sree is off for a day. If only 20 people reach in their pockets, then he isn't staying off that long, about 2.5 hours.

1 dollar in person contributes to silencing Sree. There is a 5 dollar minimum if you donate online.

Look out for the donation link and the hashtag #silencesree

I agreed to this campaign for two reasons:

  1. It's part of my learning process about what works and what doesn't these days in terms of getting attention to causes and raising money (my informal Kristofize campaign last week was part of that effort).

  2. This is the exact opposite of the ridiculous, failed "Digital Death" campaign by celebrities in 2010 - Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and others threatened to stay off social media unless a million dollars was donated to their cause. Basically, pay up, or Kim won't tweet  (not enough fans donated). My students' campaign is the opposite: Pay up or Sree will tweet!

So far, about 100 people have given money, so that means I have to be offline for 12 hours starting at 9 a.m. If you'd like to shut me up for even longer, you can donate $5 at this link. Can't donate? No problem. Just tweet something like this:

It's #SilenceSree Day. Give $5 for scholarships and to shut @Sree up: #silencesree

Will I survive? Will I cheat by using HootSuite or SocialFlow to schedule tweets and Facebook postings? I hope not - you can police me.

CNET NEWS READERS: If you've been reading my posts here, you know that one of the things I am trying to do is learn what works and what doesn't on social media. It's such a fast-evolving, confusing world that I believe we can all learn together. Please post your thoughts in the comments below or e-mail me or tweet me at @sree or #sreetips on Twitter. Thanks for reading.