When Mark Zuckerberg introduced the Metaverse to the world, he marketed it as something that fits into Meta’s vision of “bridging human interaction” in a virtual world, instead of sending silly cat emojis to each other on Facebook’s Messenger. However, this concept, or rather this product, has such far-reaching implications that we haven’t even begun to comprehend, some of which are not good for us as a species, in any way possible at all.
Metaverse essentially refers to the technology that helps us (or Mark Zuckerberg here) build a virtual world with the help of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), in order to combine aspects of both the digital and physical worlds to facilitate the functioning of the platform and the people who are on it.
So essentially, it means that instead of only having a companion in Minecraft, you can be in a Minecraft-like virtual world with your friends and family, who are present on that platform digitally. They won’t occupy the same physical space as you, but they will be there to occupy space in the digital world in which all of you exist.
Each one of us has the option of characterising our own persona, have our own identity, have our own different type of houses, have our own different type of sneakers too. Everything is as the way the actual world is, except that reality will now be replaced by pixels on a screen.
Sounds creepy, doesn’t it?
That’s because it is, because it looks like a dystopian future that we have made for ourselves, just like the people aboard that spaceship in Wall-E. Everyone’s fat because all they do is eat and sit, spend their entire time floating in front of wearable goggles having fun with people digitally and not realistically.
This digital world will basically try and encapsulate our reality by using AR and VR to help people generate digital avatars which can respond and react realistically, with objects and renders having a realistic depth and occlusion. These can be bought and sold on the platform itself, and we can practically do anything we can, from decorating our room with lights, or handle a multi-million dollar business on the Metaverse.
However, there are extremely far reaching prospects. Essentially, the Metaverse has succeeded in making an entire world, albeit digital, but an entire world nevertheless. This world will essentially act as a parallel market to the actual world market. Meaning that instead of spending on sneakers in real life, people will start spending money on virtual sneakers, while they just sit around all day in their chairs doing the bare minimum.
It will also allow people to play games from fantasy worlds through live production of holograms. What does this mean? This means that you can totally be Geralt of Rivia on your quest to slay monsters as a Witcher, or be Spiderman and swing around New York, beating up villains and dodging traffic jams. This sounds like a Total Recall situation for millions around the world, one that is extremely accessible for almost anyone who is registered for the platform.
However, such provisions may come with heavy costs. Providers of such services may start monopolizing on these services, and the formation of an entire parallel economy will soon take place. The actual, real world economy will suffer an extreme blow since people will now shift to the online platform, and instead of playing baseball with their friends or going on picnics, they will do all of this virtually. Therefore, this transition from the real to a digital world will only require the bare necessities to function as a human being, thereby bringing any and all types of recreational expenditure to a halt, since the money spent on all these activities will now be used to spend on providers of say, customized sneakers, t-shirts, big houses etc.
And if you think this can’t happen, it already has. Recently, a man paid a whopping sum of $450,000 just to be neighbours with Snoop Dog on the Metaverse, who is at this time, literally buying up properties in the Metaverse to earn money.
Even workplace meetings are now being conducted on the digital platform, with actual weddings also having had taken place. Nike recently released digitally rendered customized sneakers for the digital avatars of people on the Metaverse, and have even bought virtual shoe companies that they can use to sell their shoes as NFTs on the Metaverse.
The creation of such a parallel economy that runs side by side with the actual global economy is scary news, since the flow of money from reality to a digital space is concerning to say the least, since the provision of tangible assets has been reduced to nothingness, with the new digital economy already receiving crazy valuations before it has even started functioning properly.
This is the least scary part, because we still do not know which way all of this is going to lead. The creation of a parallel economy has been achieved, sure, but to analyse the impact of this economy on the actual global economy is something we cannot even begin to comprehend, because the variables we need to analyse the impacts do not even exist yet.
And the even scarier thig is that all of this, an entire digital world, is controlled by one company, and namely one man, Mark Zuckerberg. And we all know how monopolies have acted in economies and succeeded to control the people in those, for their own personal benefit.
So, is the Metaverse a good idea? I don’t know, because the premise of a good idea is not that one is in control of an entire world in which the fundamental nature of the world can be manipulated by writing a few pieces of additional code, which can affect all those people who have spent time and money on it in the first place, and also has the capability of competing with the actual global economy.
Lastly, it would be a day come true for all conspiracy theorists that postulate that we are part of a grand simulation, because soon enough, we would be, and what happens inside the simulation on a grand level would be beyond our very control.
And if this doesn't scare you, then I don't know what does.