Ok, let’s just all agree – this IS a thing. Whether it be fatigue from only being able to attend your home group on ZOOM, a District or Area meeting on ZOOM, a family meeting, a work meeting…. whatever – we’ve all just become overwhelmed with the amount of meetings we are attending virtually. And sadly, it has changed our perspective for some on the impact of the work we’re getting done – or in the case of A.A., the quality of the message we’re delivering to the still suffering alcoholic.
But Does It Really?
In March of 2020 when the large majority of all A.A. meetings transferred over to a virtual platforms (most on ZOOM), it was odd at first, but most members of A.A. were grateful to have a way to connect with others in the Fellowship. It certainly wasn’t the same as a face to face meeting, but it got the job done. We learned how to engage newcomers online with ZOOM greeters, some groups even created breakout rooms for members to talk to newcomers privately. We were giving out virtual medallions online, and even moving our 7th tradition contributions to payment platforms like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, and others. We were finding new ways to carry the message in this new world.
Now almost two years later, I’ve heard story after story of newcomers that came into A.A. online, never having attended an in-person meeting and were getting and staying sober. They were getting sponsors virtually, taking the Steps virtually, and picking up 1 year medallions virtually. I heard about a member locally here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area who got to pick up their 1 year medallion at their first ever in-person meeting. He was blown away at being able to pick it up in-person and meet his home group family face to face for the first time. It was very emotional for him.
How Else Has It Been A Benefit?
I was sitting in an virtual study of the new A.A. Service Manual a few weeks ago with A.A. trusted servants from across the U.S. and Canada who shared amazing stories of how virtual meetings were addressing accessibility needs of those wanting to serve in the General Service Structure but weren’t able to do so due to geographic or distance issues. Some of these members who had not been able to serve in the past due to economic issues where their home group’s were not able to afford to send them to Area Assemblies and pay for hotel and travel costs, were also now able to participate as GSR’s and vote in Area Assemblies because their Area was making Assemblies either virtual or hybrid.
Personally, as an Area trusted servant myself, I believe it’s the responsibility of each of our 93 Delegate Areas in the U.S. and Canada to be aware of any barriers there may be to service in their Area and do everything they can to remove them for those wishing to serve but cannot. On a little bit of a different accessibilities note, we should also be making our meetings and events available (whether virtually or in-person) to members who don’t speak English, too (but I digress).
My home group (https://getinthecar.org) made a huge decision to make ALL of its meetings hybrid indefinitely. At the moment, we have one virtual only member who lives in Buffalo, NY (and remember, we are in D/FW) who is at almost every meeting we have (two meetings a week on Monday and Friday), and attends our group conscience meetings – all done virtually. She is a Past Area Chairperson in our Area and is grateful that we make our meetings available online. As many groups do, we have attendees visiting from all over the country (and world for that matter) and it’s amazing to have access to new voices in sobriety that we’re not used to hearing. God speaks through His kids and I love being able to hear it all.
So, while ZOOM fatigue is a real thing, it can also be a beautiful add-on to the clear and adequate presentation of our message that Bill W. said is our responsibility to the newcomer. Instead of complaining about it – what about we change our minds and get excited about all of the possibilities it presents for us to honor Tradition 5 in carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic and removing any barriers for those wanting to serve our Fellowship but can’t? When we get busy – we get better… and that can be in-person OR online!