Thursday, November 10, 2005

13 Weeks at Spiral Steps

The Yahoo Support Group for Spiral Steps has decided to spend the next 13 weeks working on the Steps, beginning at Step One.

They are not actually working the steps on-line (as this is neither functional, nor wise) but they are talking about what each step means to them and how each member understands and works the steps in their own lives - should prove enlightening.

At present, there are over 120 members in this support group, all from a wide variety of traditions and faiths. The only requrement for membership is a respect for Earthwise ethics and a desire for health and healing.

The previous two weeks have been a bit rough on the Moderators. Two members had some serious issues come up (I can't go into detail) and some people then violated the "no cross talk" rule and tried to "help them" (read "fix them") by posting advice to the them directly at board. The Moderators enforced the boundries, and some people left in a huff because of it.

It can be difficult to teach our people about these boundary's especially as this is not the way things are usually done in internet groups (and thus why so many groups are unsafe or abusive). We enforce these rules because:

1. No cross talk means no cross talk at all, even when a situation is serious. Especially then, because life and death issues can bring up strong feelings and memories, and send some members spiraling into codependency.

2. If they want to post their advice to another member they can do it via private email (and we tell them they should ask if the member actually wants this advice, first!). Otherwise this group is not a safe place to share.

3. Regardless of what some might think, they are not actually "helping" someone when they post advice and try to tell people what they "should" do. That's not helping, that's typing. If they really wanted to help someone in trouble, they must be willing to do things like pay their rent or drive three states over, pick them up and take them into their home; actually do something. They are not willing to do that, of course, nor should they be. The members are each there to work on their own issues. By sharing their own experience, strength and hope they can, in turn, empower others but this teaching can only be done by example. That's actually much harder because this asks that members be vulerable and honest about their issues. We have Pagan cops and social workers, ministers and counselors in this group, and they all know that. It's usually the civilians (or a codependent Priest or Priestess) who can't focus on fixing themselves and not others and who then have a problem with the "No cross talk" rule. The best way to explain it to folks is to use the old saying that "If you catch a fish for someone, you feed her for a day but if you show her how to fish, you feed her for a lifetime".

So, this week, those who moderate this group have had to be the Dragons in the Doorway and uphold the rules. People are asked to read the FAQ when they join, and invited to write to us or call with any questions or concerns. After that, they get one warning. After that, they are asked to leave. Upholding standards is never easy. If more Pagan groups did that we might be closer to creating real community.


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