Meta.  That, as most of you have seen or heard, is Facebook’s new name.  With the name change, Mark Zuckerberg has shifted the conversation from the woes of Facebook, his company’s original platform, to a new endeavor.  It’s not just a game changer or a way of tamping down the heat springing from revelations about Facebook’s societal transgressions.  And, yes, it is definitely that.  

It’s also much, much more.

Should the technology required to create this vision of a metaverse actually be invented, it will revolutionize cultures and behaviors.  It will change the ways in which we work, play, speak, think and live.  In short, the people who use the technology- and that will be most of us- will become much different creatures than we are now.

What is the metaverse?  Here’s what Forbes said as far back as July 2020:  Welcome to the metaverse, alternate digital realities where people work, play, and socialize ... one thing is for certain, it’s coming and it’s a big deal.  

A big deal is an understatement.  The metaverse is an immersive, computerized, virtual experience in which you can act and interact with your environment and your friends.  In the process you will spend real money on technology and virtual items that you will be able, allegedly, to transfer across platforms.

The way the hype goes, you’ll be able to sit in the comfort of your home wearing your headset, virtually rebuild the room or even your house and grounds and town around you to look like anything you wish, then transport yourself (virtually) to any other place on Earth or in space or in any (imaginary) dimension.  The things you can do by yourself or with other people, while knowing that you’re still physically rooted in real space, will be nearly endless.

The promo shows an avatar in the Roman Forum at an unspecified date, wandering around, passing avatar people at work and play before watching a structure being built from the ground up.  The claim is that we could travel virtually to any place and any time, to experience any culture or any event or just your office and a meeting with your colleagues.  That’s for starters.

Yes.  We would all have avatars.  Those can look like us or be devised in any way we wish to represent us.  My game handle is “Barnowl,” so I figure I’ll use a barn owl as my avatar- one wearing glasses.

You see, I’m already thinking of how I would enter the metaverse with an avatar that would require few purchased accessories ... should they ever actually develop the technology to support the hype. 

It’s that purchasing- the physical and virtual accessories, all available only with real money.  Even now, with the current technology, that means billions already moving from gamers into the pockets of companies like Meta.  

Billions.  Trillions, probably.  And a new society.  I’m a believer.  It will happen.  It is a huge deal, and we need to be ready to cope.

(1) comment

Jonathan Henthorn

This is a great article! I think there is a lot of a hope for a metaverse that doesn't depend on companies like facebook/meta. And some definitions of the metaverse don't include VR/AR and are more about decentralized ownership of assets by individuals and communities online that are maintained on blockchains. I'm excited to learn more about this!

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