Is anonymity a fading principle?
Social media is a volountary thing… nobody forces us. Linking to other AA members is to me, a buyer-beware decision.
But even before social media, is the second A in AA losing ground? Our 12th Tradition (long form) reads:
“And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.”
In my community, personal anonymity is not practiced very strictly. I live in a suburb of approximately 75,000 people. We have many large, “open” AA meetings which means anyone can attend. One need not be a member of the group or AA to be there. Observers and visitors are welcome.
My understanding is that AA did not start this way. In addition, at the time of early AA, there was far greater stigma to being an alcoholic, partly because of the moral climate of the day, and partly because there was no known method or treatment to so much as even arrest the condition, so fear of alcoholism would have been greater.
Furthermore, employment standards probably allowed an employer to terminate an employee on suspicion of being an alcoholic. So again, the stigma was high.
So early meetings were more secretive. Held in homes, and reportedly, closed. In these closed meetings, attendees could be free to be honest about what they were dealing with. Attendance was more of a privilege so anonymity-busting carried a higher price. What if one got banned from a meeting? It could have been a death sentence.
Fast forward to today. What if one compromised the anonymity of another and got asked to leave a meeting? There is probably several others as alternatives.
And of course, back to my earlier subject of social media. Again, it is up to us as members first to protect our own anonymity. If we don’t, and get outed, it is our own fault. I have been outed by others making comments on my Facebook status, or publicly putting me on invite lists for events at the local recovery club.
And with technology today, we have no assurance that pictures or videos of us aren’t being taken and distributed. I was at a cake meeting last night when a family member of the birthday boy stands up and takes a picture of the meeting! Now this was naivety on his part completely and he immediately got spoken to. But can you imagine someone with a camera taking a pic of 100 alcoholics in a room? You could hear the gasps.
So I am kinda all over the map on this one, but I welcome some discussion.
- Is the principle of anonymity fading?
- Is it as important as it once was?
- What to you is its value?