7/7/08: The One Where Musings on OKCupid Search Results Became a Dispelling of AA Myths
Once in a great while, I’ll get bored and experiment on the internet.
…Jesus, that came out horribly. Let’s start again.
So I was bored earlier this evening, and decided to do a search for “Alcoholics Anonymous” on OKCupid. Being a member myself (I consider the “anonymous” aspect optional but go out of my way to respect the anonymity of everybody else in the rooms), I was curious to see if anybody else on this site was open about the fact that they’re a recovering drunk. Instead, I was treated to all the stuff that makes me both love and hate this site.
What follows are some examples.
Excerpt: “Causing havoc with my fellow Anonymous Alcoholics With Multi-Colored Hair crew.”
This girl’s only 19, so I’m not going to pick on her too much. However, this seems to be a recurring theme in both real life situations and the internet. Know who used to make jokes about them or their friends being in “Alcoholics Anonymous”? ME! That’s right, I’m your future! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!
Excerpt: “i don’t take medication for manic depression or go to alcoholics anonymous meetings.”
Not quite sure what to make of this, especially since it’s taken out of the context of the profile. You could look at that and say “well, usually the kind of people who would bother pointing out either are the ones that need to do both.” We could also assume that she just wants to get across that she’s a normal, functioning person. But…if that’s the case, why say anything in the first place? They say that alcoholism is cunning and baffling, but it’s got nothing on this profile excerpt.
Excerpt: “His one attempt at recovery from addiction ultimately met with a universal ban by Alcoholics Anonymous and some of the groups currently hold restraining orders against him.”
Okay, since AA isn’t some secret society, I can reveal this: we do not have pictures posted at meetings of people who are “banned” from AA, nor do we circulate names of individuals. In other words, there is no such thing as a “universal ban” from Alcoholics Anonymous. Hopefully this was part of some weird “fictional history,” because otherwise this guy’s just a big liar with his pants blazing in a perpetual fire.
What’s most surprising is that with everything I combed through, this was the only ridiculousness I could find. The rest were people legitimately in the program and openly admitting to it. So good on you, OKCupid users!
Excerpt: “Hey, if it’s Alcoholics Anonymous, why do you stand up and give your name and say ‘hi my name is ___ and I’m an alcoholic’?”
This observation is made over and over again; almost appearing with as much frequency as “dance like nobody’s watching.” It’s really fucking deep and hilarious, until you realize that the person’s only giving their first name (which need not even be their real name). And that the “anonymous” part refers to anonymity outside of the group. Oh, and it’s Alcoholics – plural – so of course they’re identifying with each other. This is the sort of hacky comedy that leads guys who want to be stand-up comedians to actually get on-stage and say stuff like “sugar-free candy…WHO’S THAT FOR?” The answer: diabetics (props to Andy Kindler for outing the ridiculousness of that overused bit).
Excerpt: “If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous for a long enough time, they start giving you buttons to certify the amount of time you’ve spent sober. I lasted all of one day in Alcoholics Anonymous, showing up drunk, challenging their concept of free will and asking if they have a wheelchair ramp for…”
Annnnd we’ll stop right there. Firstly, this story reeks of “here’s this totally awesome thing I did when I was drunk.” I’m sure you’re familiar with these stories, as well as what it’s really like being around somebody who’s drunk. I’m not against people getting drunk, since the vast majority of people can do so without it developing into a problem. HOWEVER, please point to me a time and place where somebody did something incredibly profound (in and/or to the presence of other people) while drinking. It doesn’t happen. It’s fiction. Also, you have to admire a guy who doesn’t have the willpower and/or decency to stay sober for an AA meeting to claim he preached to other people about “free will” and not see the irony in such a statement.
There are other examples too numerous to mention, but I’ll touch upon the general tone of them.
One is that some believe AA has overextended its influence in government. The most glaring examples are people getting busted for DWIs and being “forced” into the program. Firstly, this is not the doing of Alcoholics Anonymous (or any other 12-Step program) but of municipal, county, and state governments. I’m far from the only alcoholic in recovery who will tell you that court mandated meetings simply don’t do anything other than warm a seat or two. If a person has a problem, it’s ultimately up to that individual to admit they have a problem. I’ve never been in an AA meeting where a person was accosted or harassed into 12-stepping or admitting they have a problem. If a person is mandated by a court due to a legal violation to go into a room, all they have to do is sit through the meeting and not say a word. Sure, it may seem sucky to the person, but it beats the Hell out of serving jail time for something you shouldn’t have done in the first place and that you knew was against the law.
It should also be noted that if AA had this overwhelming influence in government, you certainly wouldn’t see liquor ads in magazines with their primary target demos between the ages of 16-20.
It should also be pointed out that it’s not always the case that the first instance of a DWI means mandatory attendance at meetings. In other words, if you’re a repeat DWI/DUI offender, well, you MIGHT actually have a problem with self-control when it comes to alcohol. Crazy, I know.
Which leads to another common example presented, which is of a government employee who failed a drug test (testing positive for marijuana) and was forced into various narcotic treatments. This mystery man is often cited as only smoking pot once a month, if that, and is often noted as being labeled “difficult” for refusing to admit he had a problem that he didn’t have. Firstly, the idea that a guy was thrown into rehab for flunking one drug test with no other convictions, failures, or problems seems a bit unbelievable (in scientific terms: “bullshit”). Secondly, I know that a lot of people have a huge problem with mandatory drug tests at the workplace. I’m not sure entirely sure where I stand on the issue myself. HOWEVER, if you enter into a contract with an employer with the understanding that there will be a drug test and you fail it…well, why’d you do it in the first place? Regardless of your stance on the issue, you agreed to it. This point, however, is moot because despite the re-telling of this story throughout the internet, I have sincere doubts that anything of the sort happened as it’s claimed.
There’s also the assumption that AA is a tool of Christian conversion. I have no doubt that there are some areas where meetings might get a little too Jesus-preachy, but that’s a problem with the area or region and not with AA itself. AA specifically chapters to the agnostic. I myself am an atheist, and at times have reluctantly outed myself as such during meetings. And that reluctance comes not from the tone of Alcoholics Anonymous and its members, but rather from the reaction I get from people in general when they find out I’m an atheist. It should be noted, though, that I have found far more people that not only understand my position but embrace me as an atheist in the rooms than I have in the general population. Despite what the text may read, finding God isn’t as important as finding out that you’re NOT God. I could go further, but the long and the short of it is being able to admit you not only can’t control your consumption but that you also can’t control all the events of your day to day life. Which sounds like such a simple presumption, but if you really thought hard about all the people you know, you’d realize that it’s a problem that extends to people that never have had and/or never will have a problem with alcoholism or addiction.
Sorry, this entry was supposed to be a lot shorter and a lot funnier. Ah well.