Tradition 11: Anonymity on social media is more important than ever

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication.

We often talk about the importance of anonymity in terms of our not misrepresenting OA. Or of OA having no spokespeople. But this election year shows us another invaluable reason: not repelling potential members.

OA’s tenth tradition tells us that we have no opinion on outside issues. We don’t want to be drawn into public controversy because it will reduce our ability to help other food addicts find recovery. Meanwhile, the 2016 election was the most heated and bitterly contested since before the dawn of the 20th century. Fear, anger, and intolerance for differing points of view exploded during our electoral process. Since the results came in, this bitterness has grown and intensified. There’s much talk around water coolers and in the media itself about how friends and family members are unfriending each other on Facebook and other social-media platforms.

Now put yourself in the shoes of a still-suffering compulsive eater who isn’t yet an OA member. You are researching OA, and a Facebook friend is expressing opinions you strongly disagree with. You’re thinking about unfriending them, and you see that they also identify as an OA member and perhaps even promote it. What would you think of OA? Would it represent the code of kindness, love, and tolerance that the Big Book recommends? Could it potentially appear to have political overtones?

Our number one job as OA members is to carry the message of hope and recovery. Our traditions tell us that everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively is welcomed in our meetings. In our lives as compulsive eaters, it doesn’t matter who is the president. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in our country. The most important facts for our survival are that we are compulsive eaters, that we need one another if we are to get better, and that helping others is the most important thing we can do in this world.

In other words, OA is more important to our survival as compulsive eaters than our political affiliations, opinions, or grievances.

We’ll have no political allegiance if we are dead.

We can’t hold an opinion if we are dead.

We cannot air our grievances if we are dead.

We cannot afford to repel anyone who wants to get better because we need them as badly as they need us. So we cannot reveal our OA membership on social media. We most certainly can talk to someone one-on-one where we can give a more complete picture of OA. Where we can tell them that our beliefs are not characteristic of OA as a whole, which has no political beliefs. One-to-one we can give them the sense of warmth and community that a political post can’t convey. But we can’t do any of that if they run from us because they associate our names with both a political doctrine they can’t abide and our OA membership.

Among our fellows, we are no longer party members. We are no longer trying to persuade anyone of our rightness (or leftness). We are only trying to be helpful to other compulsive eaters. Some must keep our anonymity on social media lest OA cease to be a place where every compulsive eater can find a solution.