Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films
When the 11th Tradition was written some 60 years ago (10 years or so after the Steps,) our founders could not have foreseen the advent of the electronic media—the Internet. Chat rooms, blogs, articles, social and sexual contact sites all offer ways in which the individual person in recovery can “publicly” break their anonymity. A few weeks ago an ad for social event was posted on Facebook. Friends were invited to attend the event. The event was listed with the word sober and the implication was that people in recovery, particularly AA were invited. Though the event was listed as secret, it was not difficult to access the flier by going someone’s personal page and from there find their friends and their friend’s friends. Not everyone in that chain is a member of AA or another 12-Step Program; however the question of anonymity at the level of internet access was raised.
Neither Bill W nor Dr Bob could have perceived the advent of the Internet and its far-reaching functions such as Facebook. Hence, there’s no real documentation in our literature regarding this phenomenon or discourse on whether posting fliers in this media breaks the 11th Tradition.
AA literature states that, “The arrival of new media technologies such as the Internet has offered new vehicles to carry the AA message to the public. AA members continue to preserve their anonymity in these new public media.” “It did not take long for those at A.A. headquarters to realize that overzealous and self-serving anonymity breakers could quickly jeopardize the Fellowship’s hard-won reputation. And they saw that if one person made an exception, other exceptions would inevitably follow. To assure the unity, effectiveness, and welfare of AA, anonymity had to be universal.” In 1946, Bill W wrote, “The word anonymous has for us an immense spiritual significance. Subtly but powerfully, it reminds us that we are always to place principles before personalities; that we have renounced personal glorification in public; that our movement not only preaches but actually practices a true humility.”
I jumped on the bandwagon that posting recovery-oriented announcements on the Internet, in particular Facebook, is a violation of the long form of the Tradition as it states we do not disclose our last names or photographs at the level of the media. The team for the defense countered that the flier in question was secret and that one had to be invited to view it; however this is not true. Since there is no historical information in our literature, the ruling is up to us in recovery in late 2008 to uphold. I’d like to pose this question to readers of this blog for comments: “At what level of radio, press, TV, films and electronic media (Internet) do we violate the 11th Tradition? What do you believe is this matter breaks or upholds the Tradition?