Check your soul at the door when entering the metaverse
This meat is burnt. Send it back.
There’s a scene in the middling but prophetic movie Surrogates when Bruce Willis’ character awakens from his session as an android version of himself. His muscles are slightly atrophied, his face is worn and long, his personal hygiene leaves much to be desired.
Watching the film, one wonders how he uses the bathroom while being plugged in all day. In this scenario, the metaverse is the real world, the meta part being the physical way we interact with it. This is just one of many parallels between science fiction stories and our perception of the coming metaverse.
The other, more reality-adjacent parallel is every single instance of racism, misogyny, and antisemitism experienced within the Clubhouse app since its release. The metaverse, as pictured within the mind of the ultimate Silicon Valley bro humanoid over at Meta, will be another playground for rich tech bois to behave like absolute pieces of fetid excrement.
To think that the metaverse will be some great thing where we can all come together and live in harmony is naïve. It’s naïve in the sense of the world we live in today, and it’s naïve as it pertains to the technology and operational knowledge and access needed to enter the metaverse.
The metaverse will be another festering boil filled with the pus of humanity; from the aforementioned tech bros being absolute jags, to a meeting place for white supremacist terrorist cells, to your idiot boss forcing meetings out of the board room and into the virtual board room.
Meta is launching a virtual world but can’t get a handle on harassment in its current VR products. Meta is betting on our collective ignorance when it comes to the fact that everything that is terrible about Facebook will now be materialized in a persistent 3-D virtual world.
And all of it is going to be led by a humanoid so detached from actual humanity that he’s become an expert in exploiting it for business gain.
Why would we think the metaverse is anything other than another manipulative money grab from a constantly churning parade of suckers?
What about humanity over the years in shared online environments gives us the impression that the metaverse will be different? There has been a fair bit of skepticism for sure, but the tech bros really, really want the metaverse to happen and are willing once again, to push for its existence without any consideration for the users along the way.
After all, we are simply meat bags filled with dollars, ready to be advertised to in any way possible. It’ll be much harder to scroll past virtual advertisements than it is static, 2D ones.
Everything will be an advertisement, sandwiched in between loot-boxes, awkward virtual chats, lame games, and a constant stream of harassment of various degrees. But hell, at least we can choose our skin.
The reason the metaverse will succeed regardless of the dregs of humanity dragging themselves into another online hellscape reminiscent of the worst parts of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other social network, is because the mega-rich, male tech executives will want it to. They want it to succeed so very badly.
They have been trying to build this virtual world to rule within like tiny little kings for a long, long time. That’s who the metaverse is for, them and the put-upon serfs who choose to populate their world.
The pros and cons of the metaverse are the same pros and cons we are facing now with social media, except in an always-online virtual world. Sure, there will be some fun aspects to it, but the negative aspects tend to affect humanity with much more ferocity than the positive ones.
There is plenty of research to support this. Sure, you can find a job on Twitter and make “friends”, but you can also drown in a sea of misogyny and hate, and become depressed and disillusioned with this connected world much quicker and easier than spending your life offline.
It’s difficult at this point to fully comprehend the scope and effectiveness of the metaverse as it pertains to shaping the future of our online world. Naturally, there is the standard exclusionary feature of this advance in communicative social technology, as a great deal of the United States alone doesn’t have internet or still uses dial-up.
It’s clear that this is not whom the metaverse is for, and that shines a very bright light on whom it is for. Once again, something that is being purported as the future of the internet isn’t something that will serve to bring the internet to those without it.
The metaverse is being marketed as the next iteration of the internet, as an escape (à la Ready Player One), and as a marketing opportunity for brands, crypto bulls, and NFT hawks. It’ll be all those things, but not for everyone. That’s something that’s being lost in all this.
There is a lot of excitement around its existence, but to most of us, it’ll be something someone else spends their time playing with. We have enough problems functioning in this reality, to think we will cleanly function in another while excluding a large part of the population is delusional.
Of course, it’s terribly easy to be a cynical luddite about the metaverse. Those of us who are always online have had no problem either embracing and utilizing new tools for communication or shitting on them while doing the former. The metaverse might offer us something new, with a heavy dose of more of the same. And that’s what’s so damn unnerving about it.
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