Issue: The Metaverse is Meta-stupid


Editorial Board

Mark Zuckerberg has done it again. Last Thursday, the Facebook CEO announced that Facebook would be rebranding to Meta Platforms Inc., or Meta for short, and would no longer be considered a social media company, but “a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said. 

The metaverse, coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” is like the internet brought to life, or at least a virtual version of life. It’s an interconnected, augmented reality where people can work, play and interact as if they were there in person.

Facebook’s aim is to reinvent itself and shift its focus on creating this virtual reality. They have partnered with the sunglasses company, Ray-Ban, to create the $299 augmented-reality sunglasses needed to enter the metaverse. In it, you can create a Sim-like avatar that attends virtual concerts with your virtual friends and work conferences with your virtual coworkers. 

“We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet,” Zuckerberg said. “We’ll be able to feel present like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are. We’ll be able to express ourselves in new, joyful, completely immersive ways.”

We get it, Zuckerberg, you’re trying to stay relevant and distract from all the controversies surrounding Facebook’s incitement of violence and data security breaches. 

But are people ready for the metaverse? Do people even want it? 

If there’s anything the past two years has taught us, it’s that we are tired of being online, on Zoom, away from real human interaction. We’re finally starting to get back into our offices and now we’re just going full steam ahead into the headsets and eerily accurate avatars and virtually created workspaces we experience from home?

There have been enough Black Mirror episodes and movies made about the societal impacts of humans spending a majority of their interactions in virtual reality to know it’s not a good idea.

What happens when people can’t afford the $300 sunglasses? Will the metaverse become so ingrained into everyday society, like other technologies, that we will have to buy yet another device? 

What kind of hierarchy system will unintentionally be put in place? If you can’t afford the virtual clothing for your avatar or enough cool things to build up your metaverse, are you now the lower class scum of VR, another poor person out on the virtual streets?

What kind of reality do we want to live in? One that’s so fake we have animations of ourselves living out our lives?