Monday, October 19, 2009

Internet and AA - general information

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

My review of AA and the internet all restarted for me in the fall of '08 with a general survey I did of what the current state of AA was on the internet.  It had been a number of years since I'd really looked around much about what was online about and regarding AA.  While I was generally aware (I'd been on the net usually at least a few hours each week and that was increasing), I'd not really given it much thought until I started looking for general information about AA and the principles of AA.

I was shocked.

What I found was a lot of "information" on the web that was VERY negative to this program that I love.  Try searching for some thing like "aa kills people" and you will get several pages of:
  1. Opinion pieces (sometimes not labeled as such) relating every negative experience people have had in and around AA
  2. People who've gone beyond systematic bashing and debunking of AA toward evangelical causes actively organizing for the demise of AA as an entity.
  3. Members who actually purport to "love AA" but who have an agenda to make us something they feel will be much more aligned with what they believe or want.
  4. News reports of AA groups and individuals off on every crime human activity has observed.
A more general search of AA will yield:
  1.  GSO and other AA service web sites (e.g. AA Area Sites, Intergroup sites, etc.) - many in various levels of either disrepair or neglect
  2. Sites having pieces of AA history (some with and without anonymity protection)
  3. Treatment centers, drunk junk vendors, others with "something to sell"
  4. Various and sundry sites with various and sundry agendas to motivate you to a point of view (e.g. AA + God + patriotism) or otherwise permute a clear and direct AA message
Don't get me wrong.  I don't personally believe that AA is a "perfect" organization or that there are not members who should be charged with the various crimes they've perpetrated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

My point here is that, if you were to look for an "AA message" on the internet, you would have to do a lot of filtering and navigating to get there.

My immediate response was (as it always is) "WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!!"

After breathing a few days and attempting to practice some of these principles that I was learning about, I realized that there was nothing that could be done.  That, in fact, the internet really was just an amplification of the fringes of what the current world view of AA is today.

I didn't like that very much.  Not at all, in fact.

But, what I got to eventually was that, since God is in charge (I certainly hope so), he was the one who was going to have to "fix" anything wrong with how AA is perceived in the world at large.  Amazingly, drunks were still finding my home group and there they were finding experience, strength and hope that would allow them to recover from a hopeless state of mind and body.

Our past GSR in my home group actually found AA first by reading a copy of our Big Book online in that moment of despair.


So, where I am today with all that is:
  1. I started blogging and have upped my own participation in the internet in favor of promoting a positive message of recovery through the program and fellowship of AA.  Each comment I write and each article I post, I try to reflect: "Is this (post, comment, effort) helping or hurting AA?"  I'm not perfect, but that's the standard I'm starting from.
  2. I believe that AA, as a whole, is missing opportunities to help drunks by not more effectively in representing the AA message in the online world of today and tomorrow.  I'm trying to work through our processes and structures placed in front of me to improve the AA presence in the online world.
  3. Where I participate with AA on the internet (including choosing where I participate), I try to constrain that participation so that it's in accordance with the principles outlined in our steps, traditions, concepts and, warranties.
  4. I talk to folks that I sponsor and members I have coffee or fellowship with my experience with AA online.
These seem like really small steps in the over-all mountain of opportunities but, hey, it's what's next...


dAAve said...

Very rarely do I find anything negative about AA. But then, I don't look for it either.
I DO find a lot of positive aspects of AA represented.
My point is -- we can find whatever we're looking for.

If someone is trying to get sober and stay sober (the AA way) online, they may not succeed. That's not the way the program is set up.

Prayer Girl said...

I have to trust that the God who gave us this life-saving program will sustain it.

I allow myself to be used in service in whatever way I am led. Hopefully this will be my very minimal part in supporting the survival of AA.


Mary Christine said...

At least 50% of the traffic that finds my blog is looking for "I hate AA" or other negative things about AA. There is a plethora of other sites that offer that sort of thing. It is sad that we just sit back and say "live and let live" and don't offer any counter information.

And I am afraid that in posting nearly 2000 times I have said some things that haven't been helpful, but most of the time, I try real hard.

BTW, thanks for doing this. There is a world of misunderstanding out there.

Steve E. said...

Ed, you are at least raising awareness for me and others of what's going on--or not--in AA world online. I'm certain that next summer's San Antonio gathering will have a number of forums, sessions and seminars on this topic, because it has become of such grave concern, in a short time.

After losing lots of AA readers, I have turned to other blogger people (non-addicts) just to make blogging seem worthwhile for me. Without readers, I may as well sit in the backyard hummmmming. I already do other AA stuff, and blogging started out as real fun for me. I've become disillusioned with the blog world in which I find myself these days, very frustrating. Resentments seem to abound.

Possibly we will end up (I say "we", not necessarily meaning the people commenting here now) having closed AA online meetings. The drawback there is, how do you get/let new people in? Do we throw out our self- qualification which AA's have enjoyed since the beginning? Must we have a committee to filter out the Alanon who has a son in jail because he killed a child while driving drunk?

I realize that questions are not answers, but they usually precede solutions.

Ed, I thank you for your work here which I have admired for about a year now. And I thank you for being fair with me, it means a lot, believe me.