I don't get the point of the sentence in bold below, what does that mean by "survive XXX to die of the XXX"?

Does it mean "did you prefer to die of the web than to survive bad diseases like HIV"?

If the internet killed you, I used to joke, then I would be the first to find out. Years later, the joke was running thin. In the last year of my blogging life, my health began to give out. Four bronchial infections in 12 months had become progressively harder to kick. Vacations, such as they were, had become mere opportunities for sleep. My dreams were filled with the snippets of code I used each day to update the site. My friendships had atrophied as my time away from the web dwindled. My doctor, dispensing one more course of antibiotics, finally laid it on the line: “Did you really survive HIV to die of the web?”

Source: I Used to Be a Human Being, Andrew Sullivan

2 Answers 2


Not quite. The doctor is admonishing the author because of his addiction to being online. The doctor is pointing out that the author has fought very hard to survive having HIV, but he is not fighting hard (enough) to break his internet addiction, even though that addiction is now corrupting his health.

The statement is meant to carry some irony in it. A related saying is,

I didn't come this far to give up now.

But in the author's case, the doctor is suggesting that he had come so far in his battle with HIV, and now he was giving up on his battle with online addiction. The doctor's statement insinuates that the battle with internet addiction is less difficult to win than the battle with HIV, hence the irony in the author being killed by the internet, and not by HIV.


This pattern is a variant of

Did you escape X only to fall victim to Y.

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