January 24, 2022

The Metaverse: A Hopeful Future, or a Catastrophic Mistake?

I’ve been thinking about the metaverse lately, the proposition of a not-so-distant future where we might just be interacting more through virtual reality than we already are.

Metaverse — a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.

At first, I felt indifferent towards it.

I knew it was going to come sooner or later, but there’s something about it that’s sort of saddened me.

I picture a world where we’re all wearing VR goggles daily, our eyes glued to screens and our minds dependent on simulated experiences.

And I can’t help but think how accurate films like ‘Ready Player One’ might be, films that have already pictured dystopian futures where a ‘metaverse’ is widely adopted.

(Without spoiling the movie, it showed how people’s lives were worth more in the virtual world than in real life.)

I don’t mean to come across as a pessimist, I’m a big fan of technology and believe for a large part, the world is a better place each and every day because of its rapid evolution.

But what happens if we stop seeking real connections and settle for virtual ones, instead?

What happens if our screen time goes up and our time in the real world goes down?

Doesn’t that sound pretty sad?

It’s difficult to profit off real-world experiences. There are so many practical difficulties to gaining a significant market share of attention.

But a virtual reality is much easier for companies to target, gamify and abuse that attention, allowing them to profit off our manufactured addictions.

I’m lucky to have grown up without social media. I’ve seen how it’s insidiously wrapped its claws around us and perverted our attention.

Yet children these days grow up thinking that the virtual world is an ingrained part of the human experience, how can they unlearn that?

The real-world experience is such a nebulous flurry of human experiences, emotions and relationships.

We could all live a ‘full life’ and still not scratch the surface, and whilst I’m not saying that technology necessarily detracts from that experience, but at which point do we admit that some aspects of it may cause irreparable harm?

There’s still so much to think about when it comes to how this whole ‘metaverse’ will play out. Yet, I don’t think it's a train that we can slow down.

I’m sure I’ll touch on this topic again, but I’ll leave you with my guiding light on it:

If we wouldn’t want our children to get attached to it, shouldn't the same apply to us?
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