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Century, Same Old AA
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., July 2000
article in a recent Grapevine referred to the advent of
something relatively new: online AA. This is something I
know a bit about. Several years ago, the Grapevine published
an article I wrote on the plight of alcoholics with hearing
loss, particularly on how hard it is for us to hear the
message so ably carried by this Fellowship.
am still sober, but my sobriety was in grave danger a few
years ago. As my hearing decreased, I found less and less
value in meetings. Finally, when I could no longer hear
the speaker at all, I left. For two years, I did without
meetings, trying to stay sober on literature alone. At last
I realized that it wasn't working all that well. True, I
had not picked up a drink, but I was starting again to feel
and think like a active alkie. It was only a matter of time
until the booze itself reappeared. I had to do something.
online AA. In an E-mail group, one of the more than 100
online groups around the world, I found the AA I'd been
missing. In fact, it is even better than the meetings in
church basements I used to attend! All of the love, help,
advice, pertinent comments, and sense of humor as well were
available to me each day. In the old days, I used to go
to one, maybe two, meetings a week. Now I make seven to
fourteen, right from the desk in my office! I love these
people! They, in turn, love me. I've stayed sober the last
three of my seventeen years of sobriety because of their
found that the online groups have an intergroup, The Online
Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous (OIAA). Next thing I
knew, I was Group Rep. and eventually Chair. AA online has
its own service structure as well. The groups deal with
the issues of anonymity that are relevant to online AA,
among other things. Although it seems to be a persistent
concern, there is no real reason to worry about anonymity
beyond the group level in cyberspace. It is just as secure
as it is in the f2f world. (Oops - "f2f" means
"face to face".)
Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous can be found easily
with a search engine, but each group is anonymous, just
like any other. Nobody can accidentally "wander in."
At the same time, alkies who search us out, in increasing
numbers, find us easily.
there is an online group for deaf and hard-of-hearing alcoholics,
Sounds of Sobriety, most online members are not people with
disabilities. Some are sailors at sea, AA's in isolated
locations, older AA's who don't like to venture out, and
so on. The majority, however, are simple AA's. They may
attend meetings at the church down the street, but they
also treasure their online connections. They are not "strings
of words on a monitor" to one another. They are living,
breathing human beings, connected in space and time by computers,
carrying the message the way its always been done.
the uproar over online AA does not disturb me in the least.
Think about the controversy over the writing of the Big
Book, over admitting women, and over the influx of dually
addicted people. This is the same thing. Online AA will
survive, prosper, and grow, come what may. In fact, it's
already grown to nearly 5,000 members since the 1995 International
Convention, and it will have a cybersite at the Convention
in Minneapolis this year. If online attendance doubles in
the next four years, I would not be surprised. Why? Because
church basement or computer keyboard, it's the same AA we
have always known - one alcoholic, talking to another, so
they both stay sober.
S., Ottawa, Ontario
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., July 2000
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