Recovery Meetings on the Internet
There are many different ways that members of support groups can gather together online from email discussion groups, real-time chat rooms, message boards and now voice chat.
With the phenomenal growth of the Internet in the past few years, as millions of new users logged on for the first time, many of them were members of various recovery groups. Naturally they began to find ways of gathering together for mutual support.
The following is a description of some of the ways online "meetings" are conducted, how they work, and how to find them.
One of the most popular methods of holding topic discussion over the Internet are email discussion groups. The main advantage to email groups is that the meetings are conducted 24 hours a day seven days a week, but members can join in the meeting at any time that is convenient for them.
Typically, members of the group send messages to a single email address which is then forwarded to all members of the list.
Usually someone "leads" the meeting by introducing a topic and then other members share their experience, strength and hope on that topic.
When members are "ready" for a meeting, all they have to do is check their email and "shares" on the topic are downloaded into their in-boxes, which can be read at any time. If members wish to share on the topic, they can just click on the Reply button and add their comments.
Real-Time Chat Meetings
Many people prefer attending real-time chat meetings online because they "feel" more like face-to-face meetings. The meetings take place in "real time" meaning that as soon as participants type a line on their screen and hit the Enter key or the Send button, their message is seen immediately by everyone else in the chat room.
Chat meetings are also like face-to-face meetings in that a lead or chairperson introduces a topic and others in the room take turns sharing on the topic. At some meetings, the chairperson will also "read" the opening and closing statements, just like at a face-to-face meeting, by copy-pasting the text files.
Unlike email meetings however, participants do have to be at a certain web site and a certain time to join the meeting, but those participants may be joining the meeting from locales across the globe.
Message boards or bulletin boards are one of the oldest methods by which members of the recovery community first began to gather together on the Internet. Like email meetings, participants can join in any time, even weeks or months after the topic was first introduced.
Although message boards or "forums" are probably less like face-to-face meetings than any other methods discussed here, they do have the advantage of carrying the message long after messages are first posted. Anyone can begin a discussion by starting a "thread" on the board to which others can reply.
A thread begun today in which participants discuss a particular topic or situation they are dealing with now, can help and support others who visit the board months or even years from now. Although the are becoming less popular than they once were, there are still many still active. Here are two examples:
oice Chat and Video Chat
The advent of new technology has now brought about "voice chat" meetings in which participants can actually hear each other share on the meeting topics. In the "virtual" world of the Internet, these meetings may be the closest to the "real thing" that we have available thus far.
With the use of a microphone and speakers, participants can talk and listen to others in the room, who may be from all over the world. Even those who do not have microphones can share by typing their messages to the screen.
Although "voice chat" meetings are relative a new addition to online recovery, they have become very popular.
Technology has also brought about the ability to hold video chat meetings, which allow participants to see others in the meeting via Web cameras, or cams.