Mary L. Peng (b. 1998)
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Master of Public Health, Yale ‘23
New Haven, CT, USA
Physical-Virtual Co-existence: The New Mind, 2023, 30 in X 30 in, Digital
We no longer exist solely in the physical world. Our minds exist in the virtual world. The virtual world has become part of our minds. Mental health is “everything, everywhere, all at once.” It is an extraordinarily intimate and expansive space that unites all human experiences. It is a form of communication—the language of our organs and our minds, where nature, society, and culture speak simultaneously. In such a profoundly proximate territory where social truths and social contradictions are all played out together, the power embedded in our modality of knowing and sense-making will only be amplified in shaping human phenomena and driving social action.
Information technology is practically inevitable in the 21st century. It has become the medium through which we live, think, act, and exist. The defining challenge of promoting population mental health in the 21st century is not to ponder how to avoid or reverse technological advancement and information ubiquity but brave the reality of humans' physical-digital co-existence and navigate ways in which we can discover new possibilities for health interventions. This piece aims grapples with this very reality of physical-virtual coexistence and raises the question of how medical and health interventions can effectively address the impact of information technology on human faculty and wellbeing—psychic or physical.