All We Wanna Do is Zooma Zoom Zoom Zoom!
Last week we here at Healing Properties brought your attention to the increasingly robust new network of online recovery meetings. As we discovered, many of those meetings utilize the free Zoom app, which has become an ultra hot commodity since the whole wide world went on lockdown. What we hadn’t yet realized though was that the cloud gathering app is not just disrupting the online meeting landscape, but it’s also causing massive disruptions in the actual meetings themselves.
It’s called Zoom-bombing. And it’s threatening the safety and sanctity of schools, businesses and everyone else who meets in the cloud, including of course the recovery community. It also happens to be one of the ugliest and most pointless hacks we’ve ever seen.
What’s a Zoom-bombing?
Zoom-bombing is basically just what it sounds like — an online drive-by. A hacker barges into a Zoom meeting and proceeds to bombard it with profanity, racial slurs and/or disturbing and offensive images. Sometimes the attacks are well-coordinated efforts by multiple participants who’ve randomly selected a target. Other times it’s a lone troll with a detailed agenda of his or her own. It can even come off as some kind of competition. In fact there are Reddit threads providing checklists of objectives that Zoom-bombers are tasked with meeting in order to “level up” in “the game.”
But Zoom-bombing is no game. How can it be? The activity produces nothing but losers. From the bombers themselves (who, frankly, wouldn’t be dropping Zoom-bombs if they weren’t downright losers), to the meeting attendees (who lose out on opportunities to productively engage with others). It’s not just students being kept from classes or workers being kept off their jobs either (though naturally there is that). It’s doctors being kept from diagnosing patients, media being prevented from reporting essential developments, and civil servants being kept from implementing health and wellness efforts.
It’s also people in recovery being kept from often life-saving methods. Yes, for some reason, Zoom-bombers seem to have widely set their sights on Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe that’s because the increasing number of meetings makes AA an easy target. Or maybe it’s because the organization’s emphasis on anonymity is simply irresistible to trolls. (It’s likely a combination of both.) Whatever the reason, this form of bullying not only jeopardizes peoples’ sobriety, but it can also threaten their lives. And that is entirely unacceptable.
So what to do? Well, there’s clearly no use in appealing to the Zoom-bombers’ sense of common decency. In fact, that’d be an exercise in utter futility. After all, if the trolls had a decent bone in their cowardly bodies they’d wouldn’t be gratuitously targeting the vulnerable. Shaming them wouldn’t work either. Especially considering it’s pretty much impossible to shame the shameless. You can report the culprits though, to the company, or, better yet, to law enforcement. Because as of this week law enforcement has started to crack down on Zoom-bombers. And not a moment too soon.
How to Protect Your Meeting
You can also take steps to protect yourself against the Zoom-bombers. The company recently issued a rather detailed directive entitled How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event. They’ve also significantly stepped-up their in-house security protocols. Now if the company would stop equating Zoom-bombers with “party crashers” we might really see a sea change.
Then again, there’s really no stopping knuckleheads. On Zoom or anywhere else. That’s just the world we live in. It’s not Zoom’s fault. Besides, the company did invent a rather revolutionary app. Furthermore, that rather revolutionary app is helping untold millions stay relatively sane during a very crazy time. And that’s more than a little remarkable.
It’s also worthy of our gratitude. Really. So pull out your Big Book, log on to your favorite meeting and take the necessary precautions. Then Thank Zeus you’ve got the opportunity to do so. And while you’re at it, thank Zoom too.
Recommended Online AA Meetings
Here are links to more than a few cool AA meetings, including those held here at Healing Properties (so there’s no excuse):