Recently the Café ran an essay on “pub theology” and questions were asked, around the edges, about meeting in bars and how that might affect those who are in recovery from alcohol addiction. On Twitter some questions have been raised about the prevalence of jokes about how drunk clergy and laity have been the night before or at meetings. How can the church strike a balance around responsible drinking of alcohol? Does your church offer equally attractive alternative beverages in places where alcohol is served?
Can social media be used to raise or further reflect on the questions? Meredith Gould offers some ideas:
God only knows what Bill W. and anyone else involved with writing The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions would have included had the Internet been invented by 1952. Until now, I haven’t spent a lot of time contemplating this counter-factual. Now, thanks to ongoing situations and recent events, I’m pondering how social media might be used as tool for recovery.
Some situations have been on my radar for the 5+ years I’ve been actively engaged with (contemporary) social media. On Twitter this includes observing circling-the-drain behavior that sometimes shows up as a near-constant stream about what the person is hoping to drink, is drinking (while posting increasingly incoherent tweets), or drank.
On rare occasions, I’ve seen people in this category tweet about feeling crappy the next day without connecting the dots between feeling that and their drinking. I’ve also observed the swift segue into defensive public outrage when their public blahblahblah is questioned as…questionable.
Gould notes, a call to ministry- lay or ordained – does not exempt people from alcoholism or other addictions. She offers reflections on addiction, intervention and recovery from a place of having “been there”:
And so here I am, someone with double-digit recovery called to digital ministry, offering these suggestions for using social media to work Step 12 and maintain hard-earned sobriety
Use the tools of social media to minister to those who are acting out on social media, especially the “back channel” (i.e., direct messages on Twitter, private messages on Facebook); also links to informative, educational resources.
Pull screen shots (or maybe create a Storify?!?) of (wet/dry) drunk tweets to document what’s going on, then email them to the person. Think of this as a virtual intervention which, like face-to-face interventions may/may not work. As we know, people do not sober up because other people beg or threaten.
Become sensitive to Program language encoded in tweets and reach out to find others in recovery. Send a back channel note asking, “Are you a friend of Bill W.?” and then if they are, consider them your online go-to people for near real-time support and accountability.
Either block or remove from view (e.g., in a Tweetdeck or Hootsuite column) people whose acting out puts your serenity and therefore sobriety at risk.
Add tweets and Facebook posts to practicing “restraint of tongue and pen.” And you’ll screw that up, so remember to add online activity to your Step Ten practice of taking a personal inventory and promptly admitting wrongs.
In addition to being a “walking copy of the Big Book,” become a cyber one.
Read more here.