My coworker sent me this video the other day. A lawyer was in an online hearing and there was a “filter” on his camera, meaning the computer was making him appear to be a talking cat to the other people in the meeting. He didn’t know how to turn off the filter and he makes the hilariously obvious statement, “…I’m not a cat…”
His situation was definitely worthy of the laughter and ribbing but we all have had our moment related to our new online lifestyle. In fact, I commend all of you in recovery that are utilizing Zoom to maintain your sobriety. My heart goes out to our newcomer community who began their recovery during the pandemic and still don’t know what it’s like to experience the support, camaraderie, fun and love that you get from in-person meetings. But like Malcolm X said, “By any means necessary!” We still have to stay sober. We need to stay connected. Thank your Higher Power that we have options and tools to continue to do that today.
What The Heck Is Zoom?
Zoom is an online conferencing platform. This means that many people can use a link or code to connect to the same session and watch a presentation or have a meeting. Online conferencing is not new and there are many other providers, like Skype, Apple’s Facetime, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting. But before the pandemic, its use was primarily for business related activities and the occasional long-distance family video call. Now, a lot of us spend a good amount of our day on Zoom. This is especially true if you are working from home and also happen to be a person in recovery that now attends all of their weekly meetings on Zoom like me.
It’s Not All Bad
There are a lot of positives that come with having AA meetings on Zoom. I mean, you can’t beat the commute, right? Plopping down in front of my computer or picking up my phone while I’m sitting in my comfy chair to attend a meeting is the bee’s knees to me. It’s also super hard to run out of chairs. If you are transportation or mobility challenged, you have access to so many more meetings now. You can attend local meetings or venture to find one somewhere else in the world! That’s exciting, huh? Personally, I love attending a variety of local meetings and seeing old friends and people I normally wouldn’t because of my busy schedule.
Some people are starting their own meetings. Getting your own meeting up and running is so much easier on Zoom. You don’t have to find a space and pick the perfect time. You have the freedom to try and then try something different if it doesn’t work out with not much effort lost. There’s a chat dialogue that runs during the meeting, so announcements and messages can be put in the chat freeing up meeting time for more shares or recovery related content and if you miss something, you can just go back and look at the text or even save the whole conversation to your computer.
Progress, Not Perfection
The downsides to Zoom aren’t many but they are pretty big. The personal connection is easily lost when not you’re not interacting face to face. You can’t always see everyone’s faces at once so it’s hard to judge their reactions or even the feelings and deeper meanings behind their words. Also, those few minutes before and after meetings when we are getting coffee and chatting or outside smoking with the group are when some real bonding happens and when lifelong and life saving friendships are made. That being said, this situation is not forever. If you happen to be one of those amazing people that have only attended Zoom meetings thus far, please hang in there and look forward to the magic of in-person meetings. We can’t wait to meet you!
Let’s Make The Best Of It
The least we can do for each other is mind our manners on Zoom so we all have the best experience possible. We can make sure our microphones are muted if we are not speaking. We can raise our virtual hands and wait to be called on and keep our shares brief so as many people as possible can participate. We can turn our cameras on so the people that need us can see us. We can turn our cameras off when necessary so we are not distracting others. We share useful information in the chat but not so much that it is distracting. We can share contact info with newcomers for connecting outside of the meeting.
How Do I Find “The One?”
As I said in the beginning, there are so many meetings to choose from, how do you know which ones to attend? My advice is to start local. Look up your local area Intergroup to find a schedule of online meetings and connection info. If you’re in Ann Arbor, Huron Valley Area Intergroup (HVAI.org) has always been great for finding meetings every day and they worked hard to keep the site up to date early in the pandemic as Zoom meetings got up and running. If you have been in recovery for a while you will run into so many of your old friends in your various local meetings. I do, and it’s always a joy! If you are new, read the descriptions and pick one that interests you. It’s hard to go wrong in the beginning. Attend as many meetings as you can until you find your groove. If you are feeling adventurous or just need a change of pace, there are recovery apps for your phone that have meeting listings. The In The Rooms website hosts one of them. AA.org has its own meeting finder app called Meetings Guide. Not into apps? Both of these websites have meetings listed directly on the site as well.
At The End Of The Day
I’m sure I speak for the overwhelming majority of recovering folk when I say I’m extremely grateful that we have a platform to connect during this period of social distancing. And we must stay grateful to stay sober, right? This is our test; let’s use it to prove it!
While we are on the subject of gratitude…check out one of our past blogs about gratitude for newcomers.
Curious about what else Zoom can do? Go to the Zoom Training Resources page.
Do you have a funny Zoom story or want to share your favorite Zoom meeting? Respond here or post a message on our Facebook page. We would love to hear from you!
Want these blogs in your inbox? Subscribe Here!