Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have more to deal with than making amends and accepting a higher power, according to new research. A longitudinal study of Facebook users found that AA members were significantly more likely to post transparent, attention-seeking status updates when compared to the general population. The effect was also found in women who attended Al-Anon meetings.
According to Rachel Weiss, who just received her 90 day chip, social media is a method for newly sober alcoholics to vent their frustrations and request support. “I practically relapsed when I first read the study, but now I do think it’s true that us boozers and users tend to post more online,” she said.
“The last time I had a mimosa I woke up two weeks later on the floor of a public bathroom with three Persian guys and no recollection of how I got there. Alcoholism is a serious threat, and I like to keep my online friends informed.” – Rachel Weiss
The study found that 12-step members posted a higher percentage of status updates that addressed relationship anxiety, depression and self-harm. Gay men and women under 40 were particularly affected. Common examples included women posting paragraphs about “gratitude” and “how far they’ve come,” cliff-side yoga poses and gay men who post shirtless selfies every time they receive a new chip.
Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935, is an international fellowship based on the 12-step model of recovery. The group has millions of members around the world, ranging from fervent old-timers to drunk drivers who are court-ordered to attend.
AA member Kara McKay told a reporter that she enjoys posting poignant statuses because she feels that it motivates her friends. “I just posted a long update about how I identify as bisexual because I made out with a girl while high on Ambien once. I feel like I did my part to help the LGBTQI$ community and sure, I got a little attention in the process, but that wasn’t the point.”
Researchers noted that AA members were more than twice as likely to use the words “gratitude,” “meditation,” “disease,” “devotion” and “Eckart Tolle” on their Facebook accounts. They were also more likely to post verbose memes about self-discovery and “living in the now.”
“I don’t feel like I’m being dramatic, I just want people to know I could die at any second,” Weiss wrote on her Facebook page. “If I didn’t get constant attention, I wouldn’t be living in the solution.”