Saturday, October 24, 2009

Internet and AA - finishing thoughts

(Context: for a few days I'm thinking through some perspectives on AA and the internet in preparation for a workshop)

The internet has fundamentally changed "how I do" AA.  This is hard to over-state:
  1. Almost all of my AA service is coordinated and scheduled via email and common calendars.
  2. Most of what I write, report or, collaborate on is done online.
  3. When I need to look up a particular phrase or passage from our Big Book, I'll often start online even if the book is sitting right next to me.
  4. When I travel, I usually start looking for meetings that I might attend via internet searches (e.g. Google: AA Boulder CO, online Intergroup, etc.).
  5. When we do night-watch for our local central office (phones from AA central office are transferred to my home or cell phone overnight so that it appears I'm answering the call at the local AA office), we try to be close to a computer so that we can look up meeting times and addresses online if necessary.
  6. My home group keeps our speaker calendar online (privacy protected) so that more than one person can schedule speakers for the meeting.
  7. When I research a topic, idea or some part of AA history, I usually start online.
  8. When I refer a speaker tape to someone, I usually look for the speaker online before flipping through our badly maintained library.
  9. When I have a question about an event, I usually look for the flier online before sorting through my mountains of paper.
  10. I write blog articles frequently (almost daily). 
  11. I read 6-7 members' blog entries almost daily.
  12. I participate in (primarily watch) online social networks.
  13. I collaborate with other people about AA issues and concerns online.
  14. AA meets the rest of my life (travel, schedule, etc.) where the rest of my life happens online (e.g. web maps, travel sites, calendars, banking, etc.).
I suppose that's not unique to AA.  If I'd given my life to  a church 25 years ago, it would have probably evolved similarly.  We have a good friend in the fellowship who was recently ordained as a monk.  It's amusing to think how he's integrated that ancient calling and path to the world of Google and Twitter.

But, if AA is to remain relevant and available to the drunk of today and tomorrow, I think we must pay attention to and care about how and where AA, as an entity, is online.

In all of my reflections this week, I've found myself often thinking "how is this new?"  Quite often, my answer is "Not at all!!!".  The same traditions and principles that have caused us to recover and have protected our fellowship for 75 years need simply to be adapted and applied to the world and the AA work that includes the internet.

I've thought often about how Bill "sold" the idea of writing a book to the approximately 25-35 people that comprised our fellowship in 1937.  Many (some argue the majority) felt that the AA message of recovery could not be carried by a book.  That, writing a book would be a distraction to the fellowship and would dilute the AA message and limit it's effectiveness.  Bill persevered, our Big Book was published and AA was born anew.

Today, I think we need to look for the dozens of good AA members who will engender AA's presence online much as Bill's vision brought us a book.  The challenges will involve applying principles of anonymity, self-support, honesty, self-sacrifice - all of them will be discussed endlessly until the truth, for us, emerges.

With an appreciation of, perhaps even a reverence for, AA's guiding principles and traditions, we will make new mistakes, learn our lessons and carry our message as best we can wherever the hand reaches out for hope.

That can be our responsibility...


Mary LA said...

Ed I am so glad you have gone to the trouble of putting these posts up. So much food for thought!

Mary Christine said...


Scott said...

lots to think about and reflect upon... the internet has really changed my program for the better no doubt!

Mary Christine said...

I'm wondering how the workshop was.

Syd said...

The internet has changed so much of how we communicate. I can't imagine how I ever did scientific research without use of a computer and software. Graphics used to be done the old fashioned way with pen and ink. And now there are on line journals.
I think that the main problem comes down to anonymity and its importance with regard to AA and Al-Anon.