I woke up today with a very unsettling feeling in my stomach. I could possibly blame my new cat for trying to fall asleep sprawled out across my face last night resulting in my waking up every hour but I have a strong feeling that’s not it. No, if I had to guess what the source of my discomfort is, I would probably have to say it stems from the online addiction & recovery community’s inability to behave civilly as of late.
Now, before you decide to go all raging bull on me, allow me to explain myself…
In fact, it might be easier if I break the generally all inclusive statement above into Four Groups of Social Medialites that I’m noticing emerge from all corners of Mark Zuckerberg’s wonder emporium. I might add, considering that I’ve felt like I’m back in High School since joining the fabulous world of Facebook “advocacy,” I’ve appropriately named each group accordingly:
Group #1: The Cheerleaders
Let’s start here with the “cheerleaders” of antisocial media. There is a wonderful group of men and women out there that support each and every word, live feed, meme, and selfie inviting post made by every page that speaks out against the stigma surrounding addiction. Now, I think this is great. Each “advocate” needs support and by them sharing these people’s posts, more and more people are catchin’ the message these “advocates” are pitchin’.
But…there’s always a but…similar to the cheer squad in high school, many of these social media cheerleaders can be quite two-faced. You see, I’ve noticed times where on one page, live feed, or exposè, the loving supportive side of this spunky squad of sassy Sally’s make an appearance offering praise to the person behind the message, only to notice minutes later these same compassionate people bashing that very same person to pieces behind their back.
Similar behavior can be found in movies such as Mean Girls and 10 Things I hate about you. It’s petty, child-like, people pleasing behavior that is fake and unnecessary. The beauty of Facebook, or any social media platform is that if you don’t like someone, you can simply unfollow them which will push them back into the black hole known as the Galactic Newsfeed so there is really no need to pretend to like them just try to validate your own insecurities of not “being a part of.”
Here’s why this is bad: The Facebook Addiction Recovery “Advocacy Movement” is about making a positive impact on people’s lives. It’s about showing people there is a better way of living than the lives they were living previously. By you, splashing a little love here and then a little hate there, you are just adding chaos and confusion to groups of people who are or were already consumed by lives of chaos and confusion! It’s like the damn Mona Lisa, is she smiling? Is she pissed? I mean the What the f*ck!?
Group #2 – The Hackers, Permanent Detention Residents, and Degenerates
Oh, what a beautiful crowd of charming, psychopathological misfits. You see these people are a special breed of scum. The kind that pop up on your newsfeed and you watch them speak beautiful words of recovery with a certain look in their eye that sends chills up your spine. These are the guys that are begging for you to message them after their live ends only to exploit you, your family, your insurance, and your dignity. These are the guys that yell how much they hate patient brokers but are also quietly getting paid by 6 different facilities because they “want to have options for the struggling addict.”
Now, let me make something clear here. I don’t think anything is wrong with using Facebook as a form of marketing for a treatment center. Hell, every other business does it so why should treatment centers be any different. With an ever-changing landscape and increased competition, marketing efforts must become more and more creative. As always, though, the hook lies in the intention of the person making the video. The rules (laws) of patient brokering still apply so getting paid per admission or ignoring someone because they don’t have PPO insurance still makes you a criminal that should be tarred, feathered, and possibly quartered.
Here’s why this is bad: Besides the aforementioned illegality of patient brokering, this also sends a horrible message to the rest of the world about people in recovery. It’s practicing the opposite of what you preach, kind of just like when you were getting high (assuming you aren’t now but you know what happens when you ASSume.) Eventually, these people get discovered as frauds which will ultimately give people who already stigmatize addicts more “proof” that addicts can’t change.
Remember, all eyes are on all of us as a recovering community now that we’ve began the public pushback against the stigma surrounding addiction, the louder we get in this movement, the more people are looking to pick us apart! So try your best to behave like men/women in recovery that live by spiritual principles or get the fudge out of the spot-light!
Group #3 – The Vice Principals
I don’t know about at your high school, but in mine the Vice Principals were the disciplinarians. They were the one’s that chased me down the hall when I dropped 2000 bouncy balls off the balcony in the courtyard. They were the ones that implemented the rules when I was kicked out of class after cleverly responding to my teacher telling me that my “zeroes were adding up” with “zeroes can’t add up” (that got a good laugh but also got me in-school suspension for 3-days.)
Well, I feel like the Vice Principals are back and instead of handing out detentions or suspensions, they are sentencing people through rumors, defamation, and expository articles. Who made these people the Judge, Jury, and Executioner?
By the way, I’m not saying these people are bad people, just like the Vice Principals, although they had horrible mustaches and pungent coffee breath, weren’t bad people either. I actually think some of these people are doing what they are doing with the best of intentions and may be making a positive impact in the fight against illegal and ethical practices but I’m not sure it’s having the desired effect on the community as a whole.
Here’s why this is bad: After an article, post, rumor, or video comes out condemning someone in the recovery industry, two things happen:
The first thing that happens is that everyone online grabs their virtual pitchforks and begin a rally against the beast. In some cases, the pitchforks aren’t virtual and these “beasts” get raided by very hard working task force members, which of course is a good thing because they are cleaning up the streets in which many people are losing their lives.
Now, while that is going on, the other thing that is happening is a bit more complicated. Unfortunately, our country likes to rubber neck. We can’t divert our eyes from disaster. So the news of an unsavory character online spreads much faster than the news of a savory one helping someone in need. Suddenly, we have a wild fire of negative attention (once again) involving the addiction community.
Allow me to cue our old friends chaos and confusion again.
It also has an effect on people who are close to the Facebook Recovery community. Paranoia has begun setting in and suddenly many of us are finding ourselves questioning who we can and can’t trust. Hell, I’ve even found myself questioning if I can trust myself. Now that’s a confusing place to be in.
Just in case you were wondering, I ultimately decided I can trust myself but I had to first tie myself to a chair and interrogate myself for hours with a bright light shined in my face. “Case Closed, Johnson. Cut this guy loose”
Group #4 – The Naïve, the Sheltered, and the “Most Likely to Succeed”
I may be a little biased to this group because I wish, want, and believe that people are inherently good. I trust people that say they are in recovery to live by certain standards and principles. Unfortunately, that has led me to a bit of a rude awakening which I can only chalk up to another life-lesson learned. Not Good nor bad, just a personal learning experience that is now stored in my shank bank.
These are the people that find themselves in the back of the figurative van that they’ve been lured into with promises of delicious figurative candy. I’m not just speaking of the addicts seeking help that got pulled into some type of cochimany scheme of insurance over utilization and human trafficking. I’m speaking of the people who bought into social media as a suitable and effective way of spreading a message of hope to the newcomer, naysayers, and struggling family members. The people that don’t have ulterior motives and are very open and upfront about their intentions, employers, and pasts only to have it torn apart, once again, by people who can’t seem to stop living clean but acting dirty.
Here’s why this is bad: The bad guys here basically shit in the kiddie pool. It’s ruined until the water is drained, the pool scrubbed, and then re-filled again with clean water. This is bad because the kids who wanted to swim that aren’t deficately challenged and wouldn’t destroy the pool’s integrity, now can’t go in the pool without getting poop on them. And no one new is going to want to get into the pool until they know the pool is clean so they are just going to walk away and give up on the idea of swimming in that pool.
For people who don’t speak kiddie pool poopy talk, basically, even if someone on social media is doing the right thing in trying to spread a positive message of hope, inspiration, and motivation, they get accused of doing the wrong thing because now everyone is pointing fingers at each other out of paranoia. And anyone that was slowly building up the courage to tell their story online, is now seeing all this chaos go on and backing out, even though social media has a much larger reach than any other forum in this world. Someone in Kenya, Ireland, or South Korea could have heard their story and been helped but nope not anymore. You ruined it. Good Job.
Thanks for getting shit everywhere…
Ultimately, there is one key to success in any movement and that key is a unified message.
I live my life today by dozens of clichés such as “one day at time,” “Let Go and Let God,” “Don’t do crack or it will break your mother’s back,” etc… These clichés, as corny as they may be, have helped enlighten my life to one of spiritual happiness in which I can accept and adapt to great days, bad days, and everything in between. That is what I want to express to people. That is the message of recovery that should be shown in public. One of hope, happiness, serenity, laughter, perseverance, and strength and not one of fighting, anger, accusations, gossip, and hatred.
So I leave you with three more clichés that I insist you ponder.
- If you can’t say something nice, perhaps don’t say it all.
- Don’t throw stones in a glass house.
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
In the end, this is all my opinion, who knows if I’m right or wrong. Really, who cares? Got to love the internet, don’t like something, just go ahead and move on. Now leave me alone, I’m trying to Zen this shit out of what’s going on.
-Your friendly, neighborhood Business owner, Recovery Radio Co-Host, and Employee of just one Treatment Center