I did my first-ever online AA chat and meeting about two weeks ago now, and I like it. As a baby boomer, this was my first chat experience (on the AA national site, not Uptown House online).
After chatting, I sort of stumbled into a traditional meeting format, sent a message and it was quickly deleted by the meeting chair! He noted for me to type “!” to get in line to share, which I did.
I got in line and was able to make the last share. “Take us out Mark,” the chair wrote. It was all very friendly and meaningful, more serious than the chats sometimes. Folks can add a thumbs up, smiley face any other icons to what you write if they like it.
The chats move fast when there’s 10-15 people active, which I like at times, but not so much when I have to scroll back to read what folks are saying. I’ve also noticed that in chats folks mostly only write a few words to one sentence. Comments 2-4 sentences long are rare and often not read by many as there’s not time if you want to keep up with the conversation. Meeting chats, unlike the free-for-all, unstructured chats, do go into more detail.
It will be nice to get back to FTF (face to face, as chatters call them) meetings where folks share in more detail. Life, after all, can’t be summed up nor understood in 2-5 words snippets of remote conversation.
That’s not to say that human warmth and kindness doesn’t shine through on the chats, it does. I like that very much. Such exchanges are the heart of AA.
That said, however, it is nice to have a change of pace as I have been doing traditional FTF meetings since sobering up in the 80s. Had I been new to sobriety, however, I am not sure online meetings and chats would keep me sober for long.
But for now, I am grateful to have online chats and meetings. As with FTF meetings, online sure beats going back to using and the inevitable “jails, institutions and death.”
Keep coming back everybody. This too shall pass.