As a lot of smart, rich people are pouring billions of dollars into developing the metaverse, you might be convinced that it is going to be successful. Who are we to disagree with the smart elite? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has banked on it being successful. Elon Musk is unconvinced. He doesn’t see people walking around with a mask on their face all day long living in a virtual world.
The metaverse creates a virtual world for the user. It allows people to network in that virtual world. My feeling is that it will be successful at a certain level. It will be an extension of the current Facebook social networking.
But it won’t be a big-bang success which is probably what Mark Zuckerberg wants it to be. And at the end of the day, in the long-term, I see it being a massive failure for humanity.
At a fundamental level, going right back to the roots of the problem, people take drugs to remove themselves from reality. The reality of living can grind and can be grim. No matter how many luxuries we have and how comfortable we are in terms of food, security and warmth, reality can be difficult to deal with. Depending upon the person it can be intolerable sometimes. You want to get out of reality into a new world. To a fresh, different place for relief.
The vast majority of people simply grind out their life in the real world and accept it. But some take to drugs to temporarily remove themselves from reality. But there’s a big downside to drugtaking because you come back to reality in a worse state than when you left it.
And I see the metaverse as being like a drug. It will allow people to remove themselves from reality and enter into an unreal world which is better. A world of their making which feels more pleasant. Because it is more pleasant it will become addictive. But because it is the metaverse and a fictional state, it can’t be maintained.
You will have to come back to reality which will be harsh. It will be more difficult to face reality after living in the metaverse. This means that people will function less well. And they will neglect their duties in the real world. This will gradually have a negative impact on society.
You can’t ignore the real world. You have to do things in the real world to maintain your life and society. It’s meant to be harsh. Evolution is not a kind scientific process. We are not necessarily meant to be happy or sad or something in between. We have to accept what living brings to us. We have no right to be happy. We have the obligation to survive, the basic starting point and end point of living.
Religion is a kind of virtual reality. Humankind created religion as a means to make living more acceptable. Religion is a means of offloading the pressures of life on to somebody else i.e. a god. It is passing the buck. It is a temporary relief from the grim nature of having to survive in a competitive world. Karl Marx coined the phrase “opium of the masses” in reference to religion. He meant that it dulled the mind to make life more acceptable. He actually said that “religion is the opium of the people”-the same meaning.
I think that the metaverse will be a bit like religion. It will dull the mind and make life more acceptable. It will work like a drug works and take the user out of reality temporarily.
In the long term, I do not see this as a positive benefit to humankind. Therefore, I think the metaverse will reach a ceiling as an entertainment device but it will achieve no more and it may damage society.
Note: For people unfamiliar with the metaverse it is a combination of two words: “meta” and “universe”. It is a made-up word. It means an alternative universe created artificially. Perhaps the best interpretation of the word “meta” in this instance is “to transcend”.
P.S. I have not capitalised ‘metaverse’ as it is not a proper noun although the inventor of the word capitalised it.
P.P.S. Bringing domestic cats into the article, I can see the metaverse allowing people to keep virtual reality pets. This might be beneficial because there will be no need to maintain the animal. It’ll be clean, without cat litter and cat poop, without hair on the home and without cats bringing in mice to eat under your bed as my cat has just done while I dictate this.
So, I can see some success with the metaverse in terms of one’s relationship with companion animals. But it may be a temporary success because it’s not going to be able to substitute the real thing. The real thing has downsides but overall, the reality of a relationship with a companion animal will be better than a relationship with a companion animal on the metaverse. That would be my prediction.
I would like people to throw their hat into the ring and tell me what they think.