|Note: There is a longer version of this article here.
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AA Meetings on Zoom: "Watered Down" Recovery?
At some of our Zoom AA meetings lately, it feels like AA’s message of recovery is getting watered down. By “watered down,” we mean diminished by ego, self-centeredness, and the need to show off!
We surely love Zoom and we are grateful for it. But Zoom brings along with it a lot of distractions and as a result, those distractions ask a lot more of the Secretary, the meeting Leader, and the “tech host.”
When sitting in the comfort of home or car, it’s easy to forget that people can see me. Mindful of that audience, we all need to be aware that eating, getting dressed or working out is very distracting to all.
Cross-talk and/or commentary, both out loud and in the chat, is a distraction. If you wouldn’t stand up and say it out loud at a regular meeting, think twice before you decide to speak up or chat on Zoom – especially those comments you think are really hilarious. AA meetings need to be safe places for newcomers or others in real pain. We should practice the "principles" and not air-out our "character defects."
Whatever happened to topic meetings that actually have a defined TOPIC? If the meeting format calls for us to share around a topic, then we all need to follow that group conscience.
Topic meetings are not just about “alcoholism” or “what we used to be like, what happened and what we are like now;” that is, an opportunity to just talk about ourselves. We’re all drunks; we love to talk about ourselves – especially “all the crazy stuff I did when I was drinking,” but that is not the purpose of a topic meeting.
We get to tell everyone at the meeting about a Summer vacation, or share a drunken episode -- ONLY IF we then make the connection to the AA Program and the topic being discussed (i.e., “honesty, humility, selfishness" or whatever topic has been established.)
Otherwise, we get lost in our stories and sometimes never get around to the solution or anything that can benefit alcoholics who are struggling to get some traction in AA. My same old “drunkalogue” I’ve been yarning about for 20-30 years doesn’t reveal what I am doing to stay sober TODAY! What principles did I practice in all my affairs this past week?
It’s the Secretary’s job to talk to the meeting leader ahead of time and make sure they know the group expects them to have a topic. And AA’s Central Office publishes a suggested list of topics here. Each of the 12 Steps is a topic. Any one of our character defects – dishonesty, guilt, impatience, fear – is a topic. Also, their opposites: honesty, forgiveness, patience, courage – all good topics. AA slogans are topics: Easy Does It, H.A.L.T. and so on. Sponsorship, surrender – "we could increase the list ad infinitum!"
The point is: we can do better. Let’s make sure that all the newcomers who are showing up now get a real taste of what AA and sobriety offers. We’re not here to be the life of the Zoom party – we’re here to carry the message of how recovery works in our daily lives and show newcomers that they can have it, too!
So, let’s show up to do that, and let’s make sure that our group Secretaries and Meeting Leaders are ready to follow our example and do that, too, okay? We are all starved for meeting banter, but we have a job to do!
Thanks for reading this, and please know that we write out of a sincere concern for our fellowship. As it says in our Preamble, "Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety." So, thanks in advance for your service to AA and for helping us all to stay sober today.
Note: There is a longer version of this article here.