The Metaverse - Utopia or Dystopia?
The world has reached a level of technological advancement so significant that it almost convinces us that this is the pinnacle. However, recent developments in the world prove otherwise. This can be good news or bad news. It's pretty subjective, considering our grandparents did not want to delve into technology as much as we do. In the not-too-distant future, we may be sitting with our kids discussing how meeting friends for coffee is much more valuable than talking about VR - and chances are they'll just shake their hand (except for the kids who claim to have been born into the wrong generation... every generation).
How does it feel to be thrown into new trends every year/decade and have to adapt almost instantaneously? Would the introduction of the metaverse as a virtual world really make our lives better? Easier? More accessible?
First, you may ask, "What is the metaverse anyway?"
According to the BBC, "To the outsider, it may look like a souped-up version of virtual reality (VR) - but some people believe the metaverse could be the future of the Internet. In fact, they believe it could be to VR what the modern smartphone is to the first clunky cell phones of the 1980s. Instead of being at a computer, you could use a headset in the metaverse to enter a virtual world that connects all sorts of digital environments. Unlike VR, which is mainly used for gaming, this virtual world could be used for virtually anything - work, play, concerts, going to the movies - or just hanging out. Most people imagine that you have a 3D avatar - a likeness of yourself - when you use this world." (BBC)
Of course, this is still an idea and not a final form of the metaverse.
Why are we talking about this potential reality now?
Just recently, Facebook announced its own version of this virtual metaverse.
According to a blog post, they stated: “The metaverse has the potential to open access to new creative, social and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it from the start." (Euronews)
Implications? Popular belief states, "All technologies move on a spectrum of good and evil, useful and harmful, and our perception of their place on that spectrum fluctuates over time." (LOUP) Well, that's a statement we have integrated for a long time. So where does the metaverse lie on this spectrum?
A survey was conducted by LOUP in order to explore the public perception of this phenomenon. Out of 42 participants, these were their answers:
In addition, participants were asked to provide short answers to the question: Do you have any other comments about the metaverse? Positive or negative.
These were their responses:
"I think it's an extremely cool idea and can provide an excellent outlet - however, I feel like it shouldn't be a substitute to the real world. Everything is great in moderation and that would be my sentiment toward this idea."
"Could be great for education and socially if used correctly and not overused."
"Will people value the metaverse as a legitimate source of interaction and work? Personally, I do not value current online interactions as meaningful (e.g. Twitter exchange or Reddit posts). I interact with people, but do not value those interactions as much as if I knew the person in real life. Also, will people come to the point where metaverse has laws and consequences equivalent to the real world?"
"It would allow a lot of introverts to meet and make friends with the same interests."
"A seemingly great opportunity, especially for those who aren't well off."
"Exciting, necessary for human life."
"I'd rather die than live in a virtual world."
"There has to be checks and balances in order to maintain stability and peace."
"It needs to be free and open not controlled by governments or corporations." (LOUP)
While some were excited to immerse themselves in this virtual reality and realize their wildest dreams, many others were concerned about crossing the line of what they consider a normal life. The concept of connection remains subjective in these responses, as nearly half of the participants consider reality to be overrated, while the other half assume to choose death over VR.
However we argue, one thing remains undeniable - and that is the likelihood of it occurring. When and how we will look back on the 20s in nostalgia - that remains unanswered. For now.
Until then, see you in the real-verse.
Written by Aurora Hyseni