I'm sure, as with anything, it has it's pros and cons.
When I look back at AA's history -- as the Society grew by leaps and bounds, often, the newcomer had no help whatsover, outside of receiving a Big Book that was mailed to them, and an occasional letter from the members in New York, if help was requested.
In most areas, there were no meetings, there was no Fellowship, there were no sponsors available to the new person. All they had was a Big Book that had been mailed to them, giving the precise instructions to follow to achieve and maintain sobriety, and they were encouraged, in the book, to begin to search out another alcoholic to help. That was it.
Obviously, newcomers read the book, followed the instructions, and then it was up to them to create the fellowship around them. They basically had no help. And, it worked. A.A. can be found now, in many places.
However, I have many encounters with prospects for AA that will contact me by email, because they found me or found us through the Internet, and there is no local A.A. fellowship and no A.A. meetings, so obviously, no AA sponsors to help them in the areas that they live. Sometimes, here in the U.S., -- they are located in remote areas where the nearest meeting is 200 to 300 miles away.
I believe, that any kind of help from a sober member of A.A., who has A.A. sobriety, is good, and the sober AA member has valuable experience, strength and hope, to share with still suffering alcoholics. So, regardless if it's in person, over the telephone, or by snail mail (as it used to be), or on the Internet, what is the difference? Help them!
My sponsor lives 1527 miles away from me. I send him at least one email each week, (sometimes more) and I talk to him by telephone at least once each week (sometimes, more often that that.). Whenever he is within roughly 500 miles from me -- I'll travel to see him. We knew each other before he became my sponsor. However, I also know that he sponsors people in the U.K., Dublin, Italy, Australia, Iceland, Canada, and other countries, in addition to sponsoring many here in the USA, who are like me... several hundreds, or thousands of miles away from him. They (like myself
) are staying sober, and leading good and productive lives, and are actively involved in their local A.A. community, and they sponsor others. (He Sponsors so many... because with 49 years of sobriety... he has gotten around and he still gets around! Some, he sponsored in the home group and later they moved, like I did, others... he sponsors that were not local when they met him.)
I have a friend here in Arkansas, and his Sponsor is Sponsored by my Sponsor, and his Sponsor lives in Nebraska... and my friend, (my sobriety-nephew) Sponsors several men in Alaska and in California.
So, I think the answer to your question, as I understand it -- it depends upon the Sponsor and the Sponsee.
I'm sure that there are many in AA who disagree -- but, so what? It works for me. It works for us. And, it works for many of them -- it just doesn't work for the disagree-er's... because they don't work it because of their disagreement.
Some would say "well if you move to a new area you should get a new sponsor where you live." So what if that is their belief? I wasn't about to find a new sponsor just because my circumstances had me moving to a different part of the country. And, when I moved, and discovered the selection to choose from -- if I did want to find a new sponsor, I made a decision that I would be better off not having a sponsor rather than pick from what was available to me.
While I am a huge advocate of Sponsorship and having a Sponsor -- I have to admit that some of the finest examples of AA sobriety that I have ever known -- had no official AA sponsor. And, some of those... did not Sponsor others. They did 12th Step work and helped many alcoholics -- but, they wouldn't allow anyone to call them "Sponsor." (Yes, they did what Sponsors do, but they would have nothing to do with the title of "Sponsor." ) I personally prefer to do 12th Step work, without having them call me "their Sponsor." My personal experience has been -- that often the "title" of Sponsor can screw up, otherwise good working-with-others arrangements.
I realize that my reply has become rather long and wordy
but, when you asked, "What do you all think of online sponsorship?" and "Let me have your thoughts!!!" ... I took it as an "AA request."
(I'm an over-do'er!)
With all that said regarding online Sponsorship -- I do believe strongly that personal-in-person AA activity and association is vital. The Sponsor should be actively involved in person-to-person real live one-on-one AA, and the Sponsee should be involved, likewise. The Internet should not be used as an A.A. substitute for real-live-one-on-one A.A.
With technology the way that it is now -- we could have live webcasts of meetings, and with Internet telephone, video and webcams -- we can look each other in the eye. We haven't figured out how to smell their breath yet, .... but, in some situations -- that's probably a blessing, and I hope it may never change.
"Oh what an order!!!!!"
With the consideration of all those thoughts expressed --- Carol, I see nothing wrong with it.
That's what I think about it. What's most important to me -- is that I have a Sponsor. And, I have the Sponsor that I want -- to be my Sponsor. (So, I follow his directions so that he will continue sponsoring me!)
What do you think?
P.S. Carol, did you ever imagine I would have all that many thoughts to share on your topic?