We like to see ourselves as online or offline but nowhere in between. But the two have begun to overlap. In 2009 I read Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody. At the time it didn’t impress me like it does now. Here’s what he said:
“The old view of online as a separate space, cyberspace, apart from the real world, is fading. Our social media tools aren’t an alternative to real life, they’re part of it. They are increasingly the coordinating tools for events in the physical world.” – Clay Shirky
I’m more impressed now.
But ultimately we’ll stop talking about this line that divides analog and digital. The connections between doctor and patient will move from IRL and episodic to online and more background. The annual, one-point-in-time physical exam that traditionally marked our touch with the health care system (“doc listened to my heart. Says I’m fine!”) will evolve into something closer to real-time monitoring of your body’s API – possibly by software systems, not doctors. Unplugging, at least from this ambient monitoring, might become unrealistic, impossible, or against medical advice.
The duality is played out as good and evil: Online is bad and offline is good. Studies showcasing the dangers of doctors online are published in the world’s leading journals and echoed in media outlets. But the ideas about what good can come out of our digital transition don’t fit what we think we already know about doctors online.
Fortunately, as the line separating online and off grows less distinct, the vilification of a doctor’s daily activity in the digital realm will wane. It’ll ultimately all be one big space.