There are OA guidelines to help us when using social media, but it can also be helpful to hear the experiences of others.
Here are some shares from OA members who explain how they choose to use, or not use, social media based on their understanding of anonymity.
“Today I make a conscious effort to refrain from saying “I’m in OA.” “
I think of myself as someone who is very cautious about my OA anonymity on the internet, but I haven’t always been so. I’m quite certain that there are Facebook posts from several years ago that may disclose my association with OA, although today I make a conscious effort to refrain from saying “I’m in OA.” My family and some friends know I’m in OA, and when I travel to WSBC I have been known to post that I’m going to Albuquerque. Recently I was asked by a family member in public, “Why Albuquerque?” and I answered privately. I currently have two OA members as my friends on FB and for the most part none of us post anything program related.
I am often conflicted when considering a closer connection with OA fellows, weighing the need to maintain boundaries versus the desire to blur the lines between program and non-program. I have seen many people’s anonymity broken because those lines have been blurred. As for me, I try to keep my private life separate even if I do sometimes share about my private life in meetings.
Social media can be a great public information tool to reach out to others, but it’s best when it’s done in a way that doesn’t compromise my anonymity. In my humble opinion, increasing awareness about who we are and how to find our meetings should be the main aim of OA’s presence on social media and should not necessarily be used as a forum for recovery. An exception to this is when I’m using an app as a means of communication and I’m not sharing any information about myself other than what I actually say, for example, in WeChat meetings, Whatsapp meetings, or just calling my sponsor.
“Each of us, like each of our individual beliefs of who and or what God is, have differing viewpoints and levels of choice about anonymity”
Having been in program for 45 years I am rather open about my involvement in Overeaters Anonymous. However, not wanting it announced in my professional or social media life, I have chosen not to discuss OA on Facebook. I am on many phone meetings during the week because I live in a very small intergroup that covers over 400 miles, so often it is not possible for me to get to a meeting with recovery face-to-face. I become concerned when using Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat because it is not within my control who sees my site, what their policies are, et cetera.
I have many friends on Facebook who are in program and are often open about that fact, however I see many more people open about their affiliation with other 12 Step fellowships. I believe this is not so much the case with Overeaters Anonymous because the view of those other entities by the world, and ourselves, is very different. I once had someone make a comment on one of my posts that could have lead the public to realize I was in program. I privately spoke with her about it and it never happened again. We are still very close friends.
Each of us, like each of our individual beliefs of who and or what God is, have differing viewpoints and levels of choice about anonymity. My viewpoint is that our personal anonymity was not the reason anonymity became an integral part of program, rather the reason was to protect OA itself, as discussed in the Big Book at length.
However, my personal anonymity is just that, a choice, and I choose at this time of phenomenal electronic capability to protect it to the best of my ability within reason.
I hope this personal story about anonymity and social media helps you in some manner.
“I’ve seen others share online about recovery birthdays or attending recovery events, but I’ve chosen not to do this.”
When I received my first Friend Request on Facebook from an OA fellow, I wasn’t sure I wanted to accept it. I’m pretty open in my day-to-day life about being in recovery, but when it came to combining recovery and social media, I wasn’t too sure. I was reluctant because some of my other Facebook friends were people from work or those I might not have seen in years so I was wary of any unintentional breaks in anonymity.
I ended up accepting the request, fearful of seeming impolite! But a few years on I still have not had any problems. I’ve seen others share online about recovery birthdays or attending recovery events, but I’ve chosen not to do this. In my view, sites like Facebook are public media of communication so even if we limit our posts to be only seen by friends, for me, it would feel like breaking the Traditions.
I do think it’s a positive step for OA service bodies to try reaching out to the still-suffering compulsive eater via social media, but it can be difficult to do without encouraging people to break their anonymity. I hope we can overcome these issues so that more of those who still suffer have the chance to find recovery.
We welcome your contributions! If you would like to share about your experiences with social media and anonymity, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org