AA and Social Media: Can they Co-Exist?
Alcoholics Anonymous. Narcotics Anonymous. When a fellowship includes the word “anonymous” in the title, it’s pretty evident that anonymity is a big deal. In fact, AA considers anonymity to be the “spiritual foundation of all our Traditions.” The Internet, however, has presented many challenges to anonymity in AA. More specifically, social media has lead to many questions regarding the importance and expectations of anonymity. Is it possible to keep up with social media and still stay in line with the Traditions? Is it even logical to attempt, or does it go against the very nature of “social” media itself?
AA’s Position on Social Media
The General Service Conference (GSO) of AA compiles Guidelines for its members. Because the “only requirement” of AA is the desire to stop drinking, AA Guidelines are just suggestions and come from the shared experiences of members. There are AA Guidelines regarding the Internet, and social media is specifically addressed. According to the Eleventh Tradition of AA, “names and pictures of AA members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publically printed. The Guidelines state that, “As long as individuals do not identify themselves as AA members, there is no conflict of interest.” Therefore, AA suggests that people do not identify themselves as members of AA on any social networking sites, or anywhere else online that isn’t a password-protected forum for AA members only.
Identifying Yourself as an AA Member
There are many people online who publicly identify themselves as AA members, and the GSO has received many complaints regarding this type of conduct. When you identify yourself as a member of AA, you could be inadvertently identifying someone else. The only way to remain 100 percent anonymous is to never mention your affiliation with AA on social media. People who do publicly identify themselves via social media undoubtedly have no bad intentions, Many think that it’s okay to identify yourself, as long as you don’t explicitly identify anyone else. This raises the question of anonymity and AA in modern society: Does the expectation of anonymity still apply in the same way, or is it acceptable if a member chooses to identify themselves? As society changes, should the principles of AA be adapted to accommodate a more “social” culture? Is it possible or reasonable to avoid this?
AA Groups and Jargon
While some people think it’s okay to identify yourself, and some people think it’s never okay, there are also people who think it is okay only in certain situations. For example, are closed or private groups on social media okay? For example, if you create a Facebook group for AA members, is it okay and respecting anonymity if it is private? Is anything really “private” on the Internet? The AA Guidelines also advise against posting any comments or status updates that is “‘AA jargon.’” Some people think that posting “AA jargon” is okay as long as the member doesn’t explicitly identify themselves as an AA member. Others think that threatens anonymity. What are your thoughts on anonymity and social media? How do you think people in AA should or should not address their membership on the Internet?