Information Segment: Anonymity in the Digital Age

Like the Tradition states Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. I understand fairly well the anonymity part of the title of this information segment. But the digital age idea is far beyond my skills of comprehending.

To be honest, somebody with vision had to shake up my rigid 20th century paper, books, magazines and pamphlets world view. That person was General Service Board Trustee Don M. when he spoke at the Ohio State Convention in August. Don made a point of reminding everyone that books and magazines — that print communications itself, is gradually dying.

Don said the General Service Board’s responsibility is to bring vision to its responsibilities and roles in our inverted pyramid of the A.A. General Service structure. And he urged A.A.s in their groups and Area committees to talk about how to better carry the message in a digital age.

Don’s observations convinced me that I might be slightly in denial about the revolution in communications that is Facebook, Twitter and smart phone technology. Am I slightly smug about my relatively un-digital life style? After listening to Don, I started thinking I could be an A.A. who’s too wrapped up in what A.A. was like when I got sober and how my group carries its message today.

Don reminded me that we in service today need to think more about the future so that A.A. will follow its principles and also be effective at carrying the message. Who knows how world communications will change in 5, 10, 20 years from now.

Don noted the A.A. Grapevine money losing situation is troubling to many AAs. but, it’s probably just a symptom of the problem of the world going digital. I would think we can’t fix the symptom and ignore the problem.

  • How will AA groups and sponsors and literature and self-support be affected in a by digital culture?
  • In 10 or 20 years, will a printed Big Book bring in the revenues vital to supporting AA World Services?
  • How will the General Service Office continue to offer services if there is a drastic fall off of book sales?

Don said, as communicators and messengers, we A.A.s need to ask how are we going to evolve as the culture evolves so that we can effectively carry the message.

If we don’t discuss it in the groups and send our informed group conscience and directions to our servants on the General Service Board we might not make the adjustment to the future. What about those who have not been given the message just blocks from my home group?

How do our Traditions work with the internet, mass communications and social networking revolution? I don’t know how A.A. can best use digital communications. I know even less how you should best use digital communication in your social and A.A. life.

What should I think when I see AAs reading their smart phones during the meetings. I pray I’m less judgmental about it. I’m sure, as communications methods evolve we AA trusted servants are going to be called upon to bring knowledge of A.A. principles to all of our affairs. To this end, I found A.A.s guidelines on the internet to be an informative tool to begin taking my own inventory. They are easy to find on the A.A. website.

The guidelines are packed with the A.A. experience and principles involved with e-mail, websites, social networking, etc. It was heartening to know that A.A.s have said they do not want the ease of texting and posting etc to detract from the one-to-one sharing that has been so essential to our Fellowship and our recovery from alcoholism. It is helpful to remember that there is no needto let the speed of technology dictate the speed of our actions.

I would suggest all trusted servants read the Internet Guidelines and also read the Conference report from the 2011 General Service Conference. The delegate from San Diego gives an informative presentation called Practicing Our Traditions in a Digital Age on pages 23-24.

This year every trusted servant and A.A. committee has been given an opportunity to raise these group conscience discussions because the 2012 General Service Conference theme will be “Anonymity: Our Spiritual Responsibility in the Digital Age”.

Thank you for the privilege of serving.

Dave C.
Alternate Delegate
Panel 61 Area 53