emember the promise of flying cars? Did we just forget the Jetsons? We’ve apparently solved traffic jams not with flying cars, but with just letting everyone stay home for everything. Seems like kind of a ripoff to me.
That’s why I’m not very optimistic about this metaverse that’s the next big thing all of a sudden. You’ve likely heard of the Metaverse from your old pal Mark Zuckerberg. He’s the melted vanilla ice cream cone who announced that Facebook’s new name will be Meta. Meta is short for the Metaverse and, in a nutshell, it’s going to be an online world, like Facebook, except we’ll be able to see and walk around and play ping pong or something. It’s still very new, of course. But not just Facebook, but Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all going in on the Metaverse.
As someone who spends approximately half my day on video calls at work, I see the appeal. While I absolutely love working from home, I do miss talking at the water cooler with my coworkers about last night’s football game or how Bob needs to stop clipping his toenails at his desk. If everyone were immersed in an online world, Zuckerberg imagines, this would be possible.
I’ve also had the opportunity to broadcast some high school football from my home as well. It was basically watching TV and announcing along with the action. Imagine in a Metaverse, not only the announcers, but viewers from all over might fill a virtual stadium to watch if they couldn’t make it in person.
Yeah. I realize this kind of sounds a lot like television. But consider it the realest reality television you can imagine.
Let’s forget for a moment that some of the greatest science fiction of the past 20 years has been about corporations corrupting a metaverse. Star Trek. Battlestar Galactica (Ivan Foley’s favorite) and several novels have all imagined people becoming addicted to an immersive online community so much that their health becomes at risk and they lose connections to the outside world.
Even without a Metaverse, we’re seeing it with raging Karens in parking lots already. People have lost the ability to disagree politely – especially face to face. We’re so used to just posting a gif or blocking someone that we don’t know how to co-exist in the real world.
Enter Zuckerberg’s pretend online world where if you don’t like something, you just wipe it away. While it sounds tempting, just remember what a trash fire Facebook is before you dive in.
And that’s the other part. A true Metaverse won’t be practical for years, maybe even decades. I have one of those virtual reality goggle things and it looks like I’m wearing a toaster on my face. I don’t think I’d like to attend a team meeting wearing a duffel bag over my head. Like anything new, I’m hopeful that it will be cool and help humanity. Like the flying cars, I also realize that it probably will end up in major disappointment.
(Follow Chris Kamler and his flying car on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed)