The way we see SAPhoneMeeting.org…
Saphonemeeting.org was designed by SA members to serve the needs of the members who are unable to attend face to face meetings. Our contention is that the site has evolved to be a much better resource than the flyer that is currently on the SA.org website. We formed our committee to call attention to the potential of the site and to suggest a forward direction.
The following Website Advisory Committee (WAC) members agree with the aforementioned statement, research and findings. Bill R., Rob S., Steve G., Kelvin P., Len & Brooks S.
Personalities before principles. In the last few years, the designer of Saphonemeeting.org turned to SA to ask for help and support to keep the website strong. He has consistently sought out members to serve as committee to provide guidance and oversight to the site. The SA office referred the matter to the Virtual Intergroup (VIG) that had formed to represent the growing number of phone meetings. Personality differences arose when discussing the transfer of the site to SA. VIG members questioned the advisability of having a dynamic site when so many members have not found the Internet to be a safe place. Other issues concerned matters about how to handle anonymity, conference approved material, individual opinion, and financial accountability. VIG members even went so far as to question the motivations and financial propriety of the site. All these matters were worthy of discussion, but for whatever reason, strong personal feelings surfaced and the VIG and saphonemeeting.org divided into two acrimonious camps.
Our committee has formed to provide a series of recommendations to overcome a toxic situation that has developed. It is time that SA welcomed the contribution of this website and provided the support that is required. We do not want to abandon this vital web site that has become important to the recovery of many members of the community.
Promotion not attraction. The advantages of Saphonemeeting.org over the flyer, the saphonemeeting.org designer sought support at the group level. Some members heard this as promotion not attracting and their pushback proved disruptive and contentious. Strong feelings became open disputes. Addicts behaved like addicts. And the VIG initiated an effort to classify SAphonemeeting.org as an “outside” organization, asking other Intergroups to delist the site and remove links to it. They even went so far as to advocate that SA return any donations made to it from SAphonemeeting.org.
From inside to outside. Our contention is that the SAphonemeeting.org has never been an “outside” organization. It was formed in good faith to serve the members and has faithfully done so ever since. See Saphonemeeting.org to read more about traffic to the site, survey results of frequent users, and various testimonials from members of the years talking about the pivotal role the site has played in many, many recoveries. All this evidence should be sufficient to dispel the divisive notion that Saphonemeeting.org is an “outside” organization despite the strong feelings of the VIG committee.
Our leaders serve, they do not govern. Further, it’s clear to us that the VIG overstepped its authority in attempting to expel SAphonemeeting.org and to censure its designer.
7th tradition. It is clear to us that we as a fellowship have not yet evolved a reasonable method of collecting 7th tradition donations from the members who depend on digital and phone meetings. This need was addressed with a simple PayPal tool that has collected more than $1300 to cover expense since its inception. Surpluses have been forwarded to SAICO. In the graph below we show an accounting of the funds that have been received, paid the small expenses, and forwarded to SAICO.
We feel that a further step to create an infrastructure where individual meetings, whether phone or chat or forum or skype, can accept 7th tradition micropayments, maintain their own electronic treasuries, and spend their funds as determined by their group conscience. This is the formula that has fueled 12step programs forever. We need to provide the technology to perpetuate.
Such an effort may help pay for expenses to expand and improve the site and to help in SAICO’s work to carry the message. Read more
For example, suppose there are 4000 phone and skype meetings a month, which seems reasonable considering there are dozens of daily meetings. If an average of 8-10 contributed $1 a meeting, 7th tradition funds would approach $40,000 a month, or almost $500,000 over the year.
Where do we go from here?
Amends. It’s clear to us that a cycle of amends is necessary on the part of all players. It is also important to bring a level of sobriety and civility into the matter. We’d suggest a moratorium on VIG’s efforts to censure saphonemeeting.org and to set direction of cooperation, not competition.
Guidance from Other 12 step fellowships. Beyond that, there is a growing need to support members who employ technology in their recovery. This a broader issue than managing the list of phone meetings and instructions on how to use a phone system. Our committee looked to the other 12 step fellowships as a guide. It’s clear that SA is very far behind. Having a strong digital presence is especially important today because of special stigma attached to our addiction. In contrast to AA, SA, GA, Al-anon, etc., there are very few meetings in mid-sized and small towns around the world. Our phone and digital meetings are therefore key to our world-wide mission. Please examine Exhibit 5 which surveys the current features provided by the others.
The Rush of Technology. Whether we like it or not, technology is fast becoming the dominant enabler of human interaction, particularly among our young members. Younger members want to connect with each other with text and social media. Phone, email, even web sites are no longer in vogue. In their place are a wide range of tools which young members use to learn, connect, and become inspired. Unfortunately, there is widespread abuse of this technology which is fueling sexual addiction like never before. The static phone meeting flyer, as well as the entire SA.org site, does not speak to the needs of. most people who are struggling with sex addiction. Worse, soon our fellowship will be facing the challenges of virtual reality-based meetings, life cameras, eye glasses that project digital images, wearable computers, etc. In every case, people are using technology to connect with each other and with a message. The foundation laid today must be adaptable to what is coming without sacrificing our traditions and concepts. Our primary purpose is to carry the message.
Coordination with SAICO’s effort to revitalize worldwide web sites. The recent meeting of the delegates and trustees initiated a committee to look at upgrading SA’s website. We suggest that the committee considers these recommendations works with those of us that would like to see saphonemeeting.org incorporated into the new sites.
The Traditions and Concepts suggest a path to governance. The Traditions and Concepts provide the guidelines that should guide the fellowship to a policies that foster working together for the common good, adaptability, and promote innovation while not compromising our guiding principles. Please look at Exhibit 2 for our thoughts on how the traditions might guide us to meet the technology challenges ahead as well as maneuver out of the difficult personality problems that have arisen between the VIG and SAphonemeeting.org.
EXHIBIT 1. FEATURE COMPARISON OTHER 12 STEP NON FACE TO FACE MEETINGS
EXHIBIT 2. KEY QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED FROM THE 12 TRADITIONS
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon SA unity.
We all trying to survive in a perilous sea depending on each other despite a wide divergence of opinion, backgrounds, and beliefs. Aren’t we chasing a common goal — serving the member who depends on phone meetings? When we have disagreements what is the best way to resolve them?
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern..
What exactly is the fine line one crosses when one begins to “govern”? Bill W provides some instructions on this in the 12 and 12: “…no board of dirctions ..can cast an erring member into outer darkness, when indeed no AA can give another a direction and enforce obedience….” pp 132
- The only requirement for SA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
How can we embrace the service work of members who desire to stop lusting but struggle with sobriety.?
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or SA as a whole.
Does the Intergroup or Region have authority over individual groups? Having a portal for each individual group would, we think, vastly increase the strength and service structure at the group level.
- Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
In this dynamic digital world where many young members have fully embraced streaming, social media, how should the message be communicated and delivered ?.
- An SA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the SA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
How can a web site serving the needs of phone members, become an “outside” organization?
- Every SA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
What financial support do the phone meetings require? What is the best and most economical way for phone meeting members to participate in the 7th tradition?
- Sexaholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
What are the administrative responsibilities required for the technology that is needed to service virtual meetings?
- SA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
How should the digital assets committee working on the overall SA technology be working with the current web sites?
- Sexaholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the SA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
When members want to communicate digitally through blogs, chat rooms, and social media, under what conditions should the content be restricted or moderated? By whom? and under what guidelines?
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always to maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
In a digital world what is the best way to announce the existence of a useful website and its new features and capabilities. Secondly, what guidelines should we follow in collecting and distributing personal content information? .
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
When a member violates this tradition in face to face meetings, one can raise a hand or exercise some body language? What is the digital equivalent?