Several days ago, the first in a series of messages was posted about LifeRing Online. That was about Chat (click here to see it). Today, we’ll take a look at E-mail groups.
There are two large LifeRing email groups devoted to recovery support: LSRmail, with about 300 members, and LSRsafe, with about 200. The numbers are a bit deceptive since only a fraction of those who belong to the group actively participate in writing messages. The rest are content to ‘lurk,’ which is the term applied to people who read but don’t post.
Here’s a quick look at how email groups work. A message sent to the group address goes to everyone in the group in their regular email box at whatever address they signed up with. Replies to that email also go to everyone. So if Bob writes in saying he’s concerned about attending his sister’s wedding reception because alcohol will be flowing freely and he’s not sure he’s ready for that sort of situation, other members will reply, telling of their own experiences, or expressing sympathy and understanding, or maybe offering a little advice. All of the messages are there for all group members to read, although not for anyone outside the group to see — that’s one of the main differences between email groups and some other LifeRing venues: the email group is private and not open to the internet. Membership requires approval by the groups webmeister, although membership is available to anyone who is serious about finding a clean and sober life.
It’s common in email groups for the reply to one person’s message to set off a discussion of a different topic that may or may not be related to the original one. Tom may respond to Bob’s message by saying he is facing a similar, but not identical, situation and responses to that message may veer off in a different direction. This, of course, is what happens in regular group discussions as well, although the convenor of an f2f group may want to pull the conversation back to its starting point. Convenors exercise much less control over the discussions in an email group — their main role is to oversee membership matters and, very occasionally, step in to maintain a positive and supportive atmosphere.
Email groups are not structured like regular LifeRing meetings, but there are similarities. Members, particularly those in the earliest recovery, are encouraged to write in often about how they’re feeling and what obstacles they’re running into. Members with longer sobriety also write in when life takes a turn, positive or negative. Regular contributors come to know each other well and take a real interest in how their friends are doing. There are almost always critical points along the path to sobriety when it becomes very difficult, especially for the newly clean and sober. When that happens, the group often swings on a dime and turns full attention and support to the person struggling to get through challenges. It is fascinating to read the genuine concern shared by members who never have and probably never will see each other in person.
If this interests you, visit the Yahoo Group websites for LSRmail — here — and LSRsafe — here.