I'm sure everyone's heard by now about Zuckerberg's newest gimmick in the works, the so-called ✨Metaverse✨ - the augmented reality virtual world that promises the ability to "unlock a load of amazing new experiences" and claims that it will be the next best thing "since mobile internet". Do you believe a word of this?
Make no mistake, AR/VR is a great tool that has come a long way and is used for some amazing purposes, such as practicing major surgery/medical procedures (OssoVR as an example), gaming experiences, training for astronauts, etc - just to name a few.
But, creating a parallel 'world' that isn't real? It goes against all of my natural senses as a human being, and the psychological damage that could be caused, especially to children and teenagers, is worrying to say the least. It's already causing an insanely upsetting epidemic of teenage suicides, which are not getting any better, on the increase since 2005;
"children are forced to occupy adult-free digital spaces, to form social hierarchies and self-organise in a brutal ecosystem where popularity, success, and normativity are wielded as weapons against fragile psyches." Farnell, 2021.
This is the shocking reality of social media in general. It's part of our biology as human beings to be social and connected, and social media targets this very part of our brains. Therefore, younger people feel inclined to sign up to these platforms in order to remain "in the loop" in fear of missing out on developing relationships with friends.
Is it any wonder that billionaire Silicon Valley tech elites send their children to tech-free private schools? They know the real danger.
Can anything good come from the 'Metaverse'?
In short, I don't think so.
The marketing for the Metaverse is targeting our human need of connectivity as a primary justification of why to adopt it - carefully crafted by a multi billion dollar company to extract even more billions from an already saturated market by playing on our self-fulfilment and psychological needs.
Spoiler alert: going for a walk with friends in real life is way better for you.
Maybe I'm being facetious, but it feels like a real-life version of S1 E2 of the Netflix TV Show, Black Mirror called "Fifteen Million Merits".
If you haven't yet watched it - I really recommend it, you'll understand what I'm talking about. This particular episode is about humans being slaves to the machine, and the only way to get to the top is by spending an obscene amount of money for a shot at becoming a celebrity/influencer in order to get to the top of the chain and live without being treated like a modern-day slave.
Non-thinkers are the problem
The worst thing of all? The widespread backlash seems minimal. More and more people seem to be "following the herd" rather than protesting against it.
A possible reason nobody is "protesting" it is that not a single person takes it the least bit seriously. I hope so, anyway. The likelihood is that chances of traction is close to zero, but the hype cycle is a feature of the machine.
In most areas of tech, FOMO and ignorance drives most adoption now because all the low-hanging fruit is gone and there's not a whole lot more substantial value to squeeze out of the wider market.
Once we move away from the media companies that are plugging the Metaverse because of financial implication from their stakeholders, how is it being perceived so far?
Well if you've been on the internet in the last few months, you'll probably see that the whole idea is not being taken very seriously.
So, what next?
Metaverse/Facebook/Instagram, etc, are not the first and certainly won't be the last attempt at widespread humanitarian manipulation through technology. Question everything, how does it make you feel? What does it achieve, and for what purpose? Who/what is benefiting from this new technology/idea?