In 2015, as a first-time delegate to a World Service Business Conference, I was assigned to the Young Persons’ Committee. I replied, “Okay. But I’m not young.” In fact, my adult son was five years past young by OA standards! Perhaps my Higher Power had a sense of humor.

During committee meetings, much to my surprise, I found a new zeal growing, a passion for finding new pathways for carrying the message, not only to young people, but to all who live and work in the age of technology.

Technology has become integral to all of our lives, and when I researched OA’s digital footprint, I found that we really didn’t have one. It seems that in trying to protect our anonymity, we’d come to believe OA must be a kept a secret. But is that really what we want to do? We must maintain the anonymity of the individual members of Overeaters Anonymous, certainly, but consider the positive impact we can make when our Fellowship becomes easily available via internet searches and social media. Overeaters Anonymous is not anonymous, the people in it are.

In 2015, if you had searched Overeaters Anonymous on one popular social media site, you would’ve found an automatically generated page, one that was created due to the interest of the site’s users searching for OA. The main content of that page was derived from an online encyclopedia (a site anyone can edit at will; what it says today could be completely different tomorrow). Even more concerning were the search result’s “related pages,” which were links to diet books and calorie clubs. When I searched for Overeaters Anonymous on a popular video website, the first thing I found was an OA public service announcement created in 1989. It was laughably outdated—were these makeshifts what we truly wanted to present to the world? In addition, there were (and are) many amateur video blogs, one of the ways the younger generation communicates. It became obvious; OA needs to speak the language of today’s culture. We must develop the willingness and the pathways to enter into this conversation.

In my work as a graphic artist, I’ve had to continually learn new technology, and as a coordinator of volunteers I interact with people often. Young people do not answer their phones, so to relate to them we need to find other avenues of communication. Our present challenge is to provide access to recovery tools for a generation of digital natives who have never known a world without immediate connection to resources and information via technology. We must boldly go where no OA has gone before, and social media is the place of first contact. We must speak the language of the next generation, and we must speak it into their world. Yes, there is a great conversation going on today, and until lately, we have been mute in it. This conversation is virtual, it is vital, and we of Overeaters Anonymous must have a voice. We must be part of this dialog.

Delegates at WSBC 2016 voted to amend OA’s Statement on Public Media, opening the door for the Fellowship’s participation and presence on social media. We of the Young Persons’ Committee invite you to visit Overeaters Anonymous YP on Facebook and “like” us, if you like. — Dawn K.

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