|The writing assignment for the day was: “What are the benefits of virtual, hybrid and face-to-face meetings? Do you have a preference? You are welcome to write on this question and send your response to email@example.com. I feel that all of the types of meetings have benefits. I have met many, many new OA fellows through the virtual format. This has truly enhanced my program. Hybrid meetings are also starting in the meetings I have been attending in the past. We have just started a hybrid meeting at one of my home groups, although we have found most of the attendees from the past, when they were face-to-face meetings, are not coming to the venue for the hybrid meeting. I love face-to-face meetings although I did not attend any for the first year of covid for personal reasons. It is so comforting for me to sit next to my fellows and have fellowship before and after meetings. Thank you to all of my fellows that have kept meetings going through the changing times, no matter hybrid, virtual, and face-to-face. Karen S|
|One of the tools we use in OA is the tool of Meetings, which gives “…us an opportunity to identify our common problems, confirm our common solution through the 12 steps and share the gifts we receive through this program.” When I first entered an OA room it was an in-person meeting, and it soon became my home meeting. The in-person experience was remarkable and as I became more immersed in the program the bonds of shared experience, strength, and hope became stronger and stronger. I had found a home and regularly attending was a priority. I looked forward to seeing my fellows and sharing my progress as well as their progress on this pathway of recovery. Then COVID hit. We quickly pivoted to an on-line meeting and continued remaining strong. Our attendance nearly doubled, and we were bound to each with even tighter bonds because we valued the ability to maintain our fellowship through this new technology. After a year of meeting on-line our group conscience decided to create a hybrid meeting. After considerable thought and investment, a viable plan was developed, and we went hybrid in July of 2021. I was very happy to return to the room and renew the relationships that were established over the years. However, I was surprised that because of the safety regulations regarding masking and social distancing I found my “memory” of being in-person was different from the new reality of being in-person. While I still value my home group and still attend regularly, I find that I no longer prioritize being there in-person and much prefer going virtually. I clearly observe that those who attend being in-person enjoy being there and I can appreciate the value of in-person meetings for newcomers. In addition to my Saturday morning hybrid meeting, I also attend one or two other virtual meetings regularly including a Big Book meeting. That meeting meets in a neighboring county and if I wasn’t able to go virtually, it is doubtful that I would attend in-person. My conclusion is, go to the meeting you will attend. Meetings are a very valuable tool for recovery and have been one of my pillars in my plan of recovery. I am grateful that there are many options and choices. But whatever you decide, “Keep Coming Back!” – Larry M|
|What are the benefits of virtual, hybrid and in-person meetings? Do you have a preference? Virtual meetings allow me to save gas, time, and money by not having to commute to a meeting and allow me to sit comfortably at home, wearing whatever I want from the waist down!! If I’m off camera, I can tend to some important need and not miss any of the meeting. Hybrid meetings allow me a choice: I can go in person and see my peeps 3-D, or enjoy fellowship with them at a distance. In-person meetings allow me the full experience of being with my fellows and to be present without distractions. I’ve gotten spoiled with the ease and comfort of virtual meetings and prefer them. Diane T|
|Virtual is easy, Hybrid is difficult for the facilitator(s), and in person is amazing. I prefer in person, but find it limiting and I can usually come up with an excuse to NOT GO!! which is unacceptable.. so virtual wins my vote. THANKS!! Joan S|
|How has changing formats/platforms affected my program? Due to the change to digital meeting technology, my program has continued to grow. I attended an Intergroup Renewal Training meeting and heard the perspective of a member on another continent, I was able to attend the LA OA Birthday Party otherwise across the country, I was able to assist with “forming a meeting” by transitioning a paused hospital meeting to virtual and been blessed by the one-time visitors as much as a traveling speaker, I’ve attended a few extra Intergroup forum meetings for service ideas, I was able to share and present with a French interpreter at the Region Convention learning about accessibility for all, I’ve been personally inspired by international members who were able to break out of relapse by attending my local meeting, I participated on my first committee to investigate hybrid options, I’ve practiced actively contacting and training members for tech service positions as inspired by the Region Convention volunteer trainings. More reasons to work together and grow among the larger worldwide fellowship, and uninterrupted daily recovery with fellow compulsive eaters. I’m thankful for all who see and participate in these new opportunities! – Michelle|
|There are pros and cons regarding digital communication. While Zoom allows greater ease to attend meetings, it excludes those without a broadband connection. Equally important in a Zoom meeting, it can be difficult to experience the comradery, warmth, and support for members, especially newcomers. Finally, at the conclusion of our home grown meetings we give each other “hugs.” You can’t really do that on Zoom! Edward R|
Virtual meetings allow me to go to a meeting any time of the day. They are online, in all time zones, twenty four hours a day. Virtual meetings allow me to easily choose between a small , more personal meeting or a large size meeting.
Hybrid meetings allow me to attend an in person meeting without actually being there in person. This is useful if my favorite meeting is a hybrid meeting and I am feeling sick or tired and cannot physically get to that favorite meeting. Hybrid meetings also allow me to save on the cost of hotel and travel expenses to Regional Conventions,OA Assemblies, and World Service Conferences when I am not able to combine such trips with family vacations. Hybrid meetings can be very distracting, though, since our focus has to be split between people physically in the room and those on the screen.
Face to face meetings are great because I get to practice social and interpersonal skills at such meetings. Post Covid, “out in the world”, people are interacting in person, so these skills are of utmost importance. My attention span improves during face to face meetings since I cannot openly multitask there. I also cannot turn off my camera at face to face meetings. There are hugs at face to face meetings. Phone numbers are easily exchanged there. Rides to future meetings and lunch dates to diners are negotiated. Finding a sponsor by meeting them first in person, gives me a more holistic way to sense our compatibility. Repeatedly seeing a fellow at my favorite face to face meetings creates lasting and special bonds. Face to face meetings when vacation traveling within the USA or other countries give me a first hand feel for the culture of the place I am visiting. I have been fortunate to have gone, before Covid, to meetings in Hawaii, The Grand Canyon, Vancouver, Spain, Ireland. Taking the time out of my vacation to attend a meeting or two have enhanced my travels and have created lasting memories.
Overall, I can’t wait until all my local face to face meetings are restored. The conference rooms in Hospitals seem to be the last ones to resume their welcome to OA. Healthcare facilities are still very cautious. Many churches and libraries in my community have however allowed us back. I hope the future of OA is “In person” meetings.