How Social Media is Like the 12 Steps (of #AA)

Kind of a fun piece today, especially since so many of us know each other through the wild, wild west of the Interwebs.  We all know that recovery is like the Skittles slogan: TASTE THE RAINBOW (in this case,  12 steps/#XA is just one of many ways).  That being said, let's get into the head of fabulous Lucy Kaplan, who compares the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with...SOCIAL MEDIA :)  

Take it away, Lucy! |  xo, Laura

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How many times have you walked into a meeting and the topic is on something that has been on your mind? Or the speaker is sharing an experience that sounds just like something you were just sharing with your sponsor about?


I’m willing to be this happens a LOT. I like moments like these. Each time they happen, it makes me feel like I’m closely connected to my higher power. As if my HP is tapping me on the head and saying “Good job. You’ve been doing the next right thing. Keep trudging the path.”

I work a majority of the time in social media, particularly on Twitter and take part in a great many Twitter chats each day. Lately, it seems that more and more often, the same tenets of the program, mainly Step 10, have been showing up in the way “doing social media right” is done.

Let me show you a few examples where I see the 12 steps are showing up in social media – namely on Twitter:


Twitter says: Be of service to others: If you’ve spent any time in chat rooms, you’ve heard people say that the way to grow a larger community on social media is through helping people. Brands hear it all the time – find a way to help your community and (if this is one of your goals) that will help lead to sales. You may have heard about the 80/20 rule – to talk about other people and share their news and posts 80% of the time (unselfishly), and don’t talk about yourself self-centeredly more than 20% of the time. While I don’t personally believe there are any hard and fast “rules” like this that need to be adhered to in social media, the idea of not being self-centered is a common theme. Help others and expect nothing in return.

AA says: Be of service to others: It is mentioned throughout the Big Book – a large part of the AA program is to continue to help others, every day. How do we do that? Through a myriad of ways. From something as simple as saying hello and welcoming a newcomer to their first meeting, to driving someone to a meeting they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to, through sponsorship, even making coffee at a meeting is being of service. Following Twitter’s recommendation not to be self-centered, Step 10 reminds us to "...Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.” When we see these defects of character pop up, ask God to remove them. There is no room for selfishness or self-centeredness in social media, or in your AA program. Step 7 teaches us that nothing will help us stay sober more than working with others.

Twitter says: Build a community around you. Find Your Tribe: How do we do this? There are many ways, just like in the AA program, we share our personal experiences in hopes that people will relate. Finding commonality is a big part of building a community. You can’t get anywhere on your own. The “we” of social media is infinitely more important than the “I.”

AA says: Build a community around you. Find Your Tribe: Why do we go to meetings? Because we can’t stay sober by ourselves. Almost each step begins with the word “We.” We are constantly reminded that together, we are better than we our alone.

Twitter says: Make personal connections, be transparent: transparent brands and transparent people admit when they’ve made a mistake, or sent out an errant tweet. They don’t ignore it, or delete it, or hope it just goes away. They own up to their mistakes and let their audience know how they will go about fixing the error and changing for the future. Oftentimes what may seem like a mistake that will cost them their business or friendship, can be easily forgiven by how well they recover and transparently engage with their community on what went wrong and what they will do to fix it.

AA says: Make personal connections, be transparent: The more people in AA get to know us, the more accountability we’ve got. To me, this helps lessen the chance of relapse. We have people that know us, that we can call when we’re struggling, that we can call when we’re NOT struggling (why is it sometimes harder to pick up the phone and share GOOD news?) The point is to do things differently in our sober lives. When we were drinking, we were most often NOT honest, and transparency and nurturing our relationships is something new to us as sober people.

Twitter says: Watch out for “Shiny Object Syndrome”:

AA says: ________________: I originally got sober when I was 18. After a few years, what eventually led me to choose and plan my relapse, was the stigma I felt of being in AA. I was looking at people NOT in the program and wanted to be like them. I thought everything “else” looked like so much more fun and people not in AA were so much cooler. I didn’t think about what life was like before sobriety, I just wanted to be like everyone else. The “else” was the shiny objects – looking outside of what I had and coveting what I thought was ‘better.’

Twitter says: Brands – be honest when you’ve made a mistake and don’t try to hide it:  Admit it to your community, and let people know you’re acknowledging you were wrong and what steps you will take to both remedy the wrong and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

AA says: “…and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” (Step 10): One of my favorite things about the AA program is that we are offered the opportunity to start our day over at any point. We get another chance ALL DAY LONG. How fortunate is that? Step 10 shows me that I have the chance to review my day and work on building trust and stronger relationships every single day. I don’t have to stew over wrongdoings any longer, or keep up charades that things are better than they are, or remember my myriad of lies. I can let people know that I realize I’ve done something wrong and will do my darndest daily to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

It’s only because I spend most of my time on social media that I’ve made this correlation. This is only one small example of how I try to live the AA Life “in all aspects of my life,” but I think it’s pretty cool that today, as a sober woman, I can SEE how my program relates to my life. I’m not longer looking for the differences, or trying to find the “out” or the loophole to show me that AA won’t work for me in the long term, giving me another excuse not to incorporate it. What examples in YOUR life do you see the AA program, that may have surprised you?

Originally getting sober at 18, and spending her early adulthood in Chicago AA, Lucy has now been living sober since April 2013. Having taken a few too many years to “do more research,” she has happily returned to her support groups that thankfully welcomed her back with open arms. She earned a bachelor degree in English composition from Northeastern Illinois University in 2001. A native Chicagoan, she has recently returned “home,” after nine years of living and working in Los Angeles. For the past 16 years, Lucy has worked as a marketing manager for many of the brands she hopes you use in your daily life. An avid reader and writer, she is a regular contributor to and She also runs a blog,, where she writes about just about everything.