Suppose that over the last few years, there's been an exponential rise in the amount of opium usage. It's especially prevalent among the youth. You've started to notice as you walk through airports and look at how people twiddle away their time, sneaking the occasional glance over the shoulder of a stranger, that quite a few people seem to spend those spare moments happily indulging in the drug.
Obviously, this is not a great situation. Addictions rarely are. Also, some people worry about the specific opium den where most of the youth seem to go to get their fix and the way it may or may not make use of their information. People also have expressed worries about what level of involvement the government housing these dens may or may not have in running them, but maybe that's beside the point.
It's a little more complicated than that because not all of this opium is bad, per se. Some of it seems to really help people, but there's no question that on the whole, it's all very addictive.
Now suppose that you're a doctor, and part of your job involves prescribing drugs. Not ones like opium, at least you hope not, but ones that will actually help people and make their lives better. Moreover, a big part of the reason you got into medicine was not just to help people in general, but to help the youth in particular.
In your heart of hearts, you know that there's a somewhat blurry line between the drugs that you prescribe and the opium people are addicted to. It's definitely possible for people to abuse the pharmacy where your prescriptions are dispensed, and as easy as it is to be critical of the opium dens, it's not like your own domain hasn't seen an addiction epidemic of its own. Not only that, but your own pharmacy has even recently opened a window specifically to dispense opium, and asking many doctors to try prescribing opium here, all in the hope of competing with the more popular opium dens.
Still, you feel pretty comfortable that your drugs, at least, are actually helping people.
The question is, should you explore channels of dispensing your drugs, or variants of your drugs, in the opium dens? On the one hand, it doesn't feel great to be a part of the growing addiction. But realistically there are a lot of people, especially the younger generation, that spend much more of their time in the opium den than in pharmacies and doctor's offices. You know it might be an avenue for reaching those people. Mostly, though, you just haven't thought about it much given that you yourself aren't an opium user.
The immediate hurdle is that your drugs don't fit the form factor of what's dispensed at the opium dens. What you prescribe isn't the easiest in the world to use, it requires at least a little bit of patience and concentration, whereas most opium gives a more immediate hit. You could take some time to adapt your prescription or to create new drugs that more closely fit the spirit of the dens, but it's not really something you want to spend a lot of your own time doing.
But then suppose someone comes along and offers to do that adaptation on your behalf. They'll take some of your existing drugs, pull out what may fit well in the dens, and invite people to come to your pharmacy if they like the taste of what they had. You can still spend almost all your time working on the medicines you feel passionate about, and even if it's not in the most virtuous context, a few more people may now have the chance to become aware of your practice. Worth a shot, no?
Anyway, there now exists a 3blue1brown TikTok. My thanks go to Dawid Kołodziej for cutting up the adaptations.
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