Facebook recently renamed their brand to Meta along with which came the Metaverse which the company believes to be the next big thing after the Internet. Which in simple words could be classified as a virtual world that runs beside our physical world. But it has received a lot of mixed reactions with some believing it to be a great idea while others thinking it would damage the well-being of the next generation and even affect our privacy.
Through this blog, I would like to cover what I think about the Metaverse and whether or not I believe it would bring around a healthy future.
What is the Metaverse?
Metaverse is simply a customizable digital space that would be represented by the digital representation of people, places, and things, similar to a digital world as shown in the movie Ready Player One. Metaverse is made possible because of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology that will provide the most immersive experience to the user.
Facebook/Meta isn’t the only company trying to build a metaverse Microsoft also announced just after a few days that they would also be creating their own metaverse which would primarily focus on business with virtual offices where the employees can interact with each other with a near physical experience. Their main goal is to integrate this technology with Microsoft Teams and other applications, this will further allow not only businesses but also educational institutions that would be able to recreate a virtual environment for their students to interact in and provide a more hands-on experience with practical examples.
The Current Situation
The virtual world has gained a lot of popularity in recent years and we all have experienced it in some way or the other with the best example being virtual concerts held within the popular battle royal game Fortnite. Another common example could be Microsoft Teams or Zoom that allows people working in an organization to easily collaborate and interact with each other using this virtual environment.
We have all already been living in some form of the metaverse for a long time now. Thanks to social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) they have become a huge part of our daily lives with each individual spending the most amount of their time on social media. But there has always been a gap i.e., the time users spend when they are not using their phones or computers and this is the market that Facebook wanted to tap with the introduction to the Metaverse.
Facebook/Meta has promised that as the internet there won’t be a particular company that would own this Metaverse, but I have my apprehensions regarding the same as Facebook/Meta is known for taking user data and selling it in some way or another mainly for advertisements. The only way to make this possible is to make their metaverse open-source, but making it open source will limit their profits.
VR and AR headsets are essential to experience the metaverse to its full potential and not everyone can currently own these headsets due to their high cost and many people including me get nauseous after using these VR headsets after some time. Facebook/Meta has promised to subsidize the price of these headsets to get as many people as they can onboard.
There are benefits, but a lot of downsides as well
A metaverse will make it easier for people to interact with each other with the help of a virtual avatar and will also allow organizations to easily hold interactive meetings, see their physical product without actually producing it (this would be especially helpful to architects), make employee onboarding and training easy.
The demo that was shown to us by Facebook/Meta showed an infinite number of possibilities with one of my favorites being that we would be able to teleport from one place to another in an instant. This is just one of the many things that we would be able to able to do in this metaverse, the technology will also its users to create their own customizable virtual environments.
The benefits may be vast, but that does not mean that it is perfect. Social Media is already very addictive if I put my own personal experience into the picture; while using Instagram if I start looking at reels I might spend hours without realizing the time. More importantly, whatever is shown there is mostly fake as it does not show an individual's real personality. It has been proved that social media makes people feel bad about themselves while comparing their lives to that individual.
Meta does take Social Media to the next level, but seeing that people will always be stuck inside a virtual world where they can look as they want without the other person realizing who they truly are is very scary and it will also discourage people to keep themselves physically fit which would lead to the rise of many diseases Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Heart Problems, etc.
Facebook/Meta is not known for keeping its user’s private data safe, it makes most of its money through personalized advertisements with are displayed to each individual user as per their day-to-day activity; achieved by tracking their activities while they are on the web. The company on multiple occasions has also been caught selling this data to other companies that use this to manipulate these customers.
Metaverse is a very interesting concept and seeing how it can ease business workflows and even create a more interactive way for people to communicate with each other. I have no doubt that it would be a success. But, seeing the marketing content for the metaverse, I find that it would be much more addictive than regular social media and people would spend even their free time inside the metaverse.