You may be expecting this to be a treatise on anonymity and social media or an argument for recovering out loud. It isn’t. Sorry to disappoint you.
I’m writing to share my experience, so that you might avoid it if you’re newly sober. See, when I got sober, I didn’t give my social media much thought. I just started following people in recovery and tweeting from my original account. Same thing with Instagram.
And then, I got scared.
I thought about the stigma associated with being a recovering alcoholic. I thought about future employers, my child’s friend’s parents, the AA doctrine on the internet. I wrote about all this in a post shortly after I changed my username on twitter.
I went through the process of anonymizing my details on the net as best I could and decided that I would be “good” with just one account on various services. I also consolidated this blog with another blog that I’d been writing for 10 years. And I went on my merry way.
Problem solved. Or so I thought.
As my tweets began to focus more on recovery, I lost a few followers on twitter. No worry, I don’t get wrapped up in how may followers I have. And they were mostly people that I didn’t really interact with any way.
But those unfollows did make me pause.
Maybe the people who had followed me before I was a sober guy weren’t really that interested in my struggles with the steps. Maybe they didn’t want to read my blog posts about sobriety. Maybe they wanted to see more of what I tweeted about before I got sober — Riding my bike, cooking, fatherhood, technology. Maybe I was disappointing people.
But that really didn’t bother me too much. Twitter is a two way street, but it doesn’t have to be bidirectional. I post content that I find interesting – people follow me – sometimes I follow them, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I follow people who post interesting content who don’t follow me, because <gasp> I’m not that interesting.
However, as I got more and more involved with the recovery community on Twitter, I began to find that I was missing a lot of what I liked to read on twitter. Not that I don’t enjoy the recovery tweets — I absolutely do — but they were starting to overwhelm my feed. I was having a hard time finding the good tweets on my other interests in the mix.
And so, I created another twitter account and started a process that I don’t advise. See, apparently I’m still not thinking clearly. I really liked my sober handle @soberboots and didn’t want to lose it. So I created a non-sober handle and then began trying to convince all my non-recovery folks to follow it.
That hasn’t worked out so well. I’ve had many, but not nearly all of the people who followed me (roughly 1/3) of the followers take note and make the switch – even after sending multiple tweets and even DMs to people.
If I’d thought that through a bit more, I might have changed @soberboots to another handle and asked all the recovery folks to follow a new handle (which very well might have been @soberboots…)
So, I leave you with these thoughts:
- It’s probably best to start with a dedicated handle for recovery from the start. This gives you the following:
- Complete separation of your recovery vs non-recovery interests
- Zero stress about who knows that you’re sober or not
- Zero stress related to trying to sanitize all your previously integrated services
- A safe handle that you can make private if you want
- If you don’t do that and you want to make a change, give it some thought and think hard about which group you want to ask to follow you on the new handle. I’d advise asking whichever group (recovering folks vs normies) is smaller to make the change.
I’m certainly not losing sleep of any of this, but I do feel like I probably could have managed all this better. As I tweeted this AM:
If you want to know where to follow me for my other interests, read my tweets, you’ll find the handle mentioned several times. Or tweet to me and I’ll respond in a DM.