Of our own volition we choose to share experiences, knowledge, skills, work and services on a global scale.
While Big Brother – of Orwell’s 1984 – came to symbolise the danger of an all-knowing state that understood your worst fears and could turn them against you, it appears most people are happy with the seemingly more-friendly Little Brother.
A problem shared
There are many transformative exemplars of the power of sharing, from TripAdvisor to Facebook and eBay, but let me give you a personal example. In 2016, my wife had an accident and shattered her shoulder. Surgeons installed a plate and a dozen bolts and issued a dire prognosis. They said she had a mere 10 per cent chance of full healing with less than 15 per cent of movement regained – and worse, a lifetime of three-yearly corrective surgery.
So I researched and shared our dilemma online. Out of the ether a US medic contacted me with valuable advice and my next step was eBay – yes, eBay. I found a fellow sufferer who had purchased an ultrasonic bone-growth stimulator to fully heal his damaged hand. An online chat and Skype call resulted in my purchasing his now disused machine.
We then collaborated with our surgeon, completed five months of self-treatment and a year of physiotherapy. The result? A 100 per cent heal with the recovery of over 95 per cent of movement. All of this would have been impossible without social networks. Now you might say this was exceptional because I am an engineer, but not so. An Australian farmer whose son was born without fingers bought a 3D printer, designed and produced an articulated prosthetic to enable his son. But he didn’t stop there – he shared the design and all the details on the net so other parents could help their children too.
Social networks and the sharing culture are slowly transforming 1950s “do it for me” healthcare models into “do it yourself” global communities.
The internet is now our first port of call for help with our vehicles, appliances and devices when we have problems. Expertise on almost any topic is available on tap from Wi-Fi to washing machines.