Tradition 11 states,

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV.”

My recent search on the Internet for the words “12-step program” got 633 million hits (in .16 seconds, by the way)!  Whoa. Bill W. and Dr. Bob would be blown away with that fact, huh?

Both the AA and Al-Anon 11th Tradition speaks of maintaining anonymity “at the level of press, radio and television“.  We’ve come to add the Internet into that mix, too. In fact, both organizations (they are separate, if you didn’t know it) have guidelines in place for those who want to take the Program on to the Web. I am the “webmaster” (for lack of a better word) of my Al-Anon home group’s membership website. And there are many, many other groups that have made the leap.

So that brings up the question: are websites “promoting” the Program instead of “attracting”, like the 11thTradition states?

Carrying the MessageAccording to the “A.A. Guidelines” on the Internet:

“As our co-founder, Bill W., wrote: “Public information takes many forms – the simple sign outside a meeting place that says ‘A.A. meeting tonight’; listing in local phone directories; distribution of A.A. literature; and radio and television shows using sophisticated media techniques. Whatever the form, it comes down to ‘one drunk carrying the message to another drunk,’ whether through personal contact or through the use of third parties and the media. “

Those same Guidelines state that,

“When we use digital media, we are responsible for our own anonymity and that of others. When we post, text, or blog, we should assume that we are publishing at the public level. When we break our anonymity in these forums, we may inadvertedly break the anonymity of others.”

At first glance, email may seem a safe way to communicate without public viewing–but let’s think about that again. We all have people who have sent us an email, usually forwarded from someone else, that has a host of email addresses listed at the top. Besides being very annoying, it also breaks anonymity.  I’m very careful with my email newsletter lists to make sure the anonymity of each person is guarded.

If you spend much time online, the A.A. Guidelines pdf is a great resource for anyone. You can read it or download it here.

Besides blogs like DoubleWinners and 12stepsthinkaboutit, a few more digital ways to carry the message are:

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.)
Websites administered by local AA/Al-Anon Groups
Electronic meetings (email, chat, bulletin board forums, telephone)

FYI: Here are links to electronic meetings:
(Note: The AA site is not a part of the AA World Services but the link is provided by AAWS website.)

Bottom line: the message we carry is the same whether we do it face-to-face or otherwise. Our common welfare should always come first. Anonymity is still vital, people are still suffering from the disease and the pain remains very real. If we do our best to uphold the Traditions “in all our affairs”, our program will still be around for our descendents.