The Meta-verse and You

Arthav Naidu, Staff Writer

As we enter a new era with an increasing focus on digitizing the world, we must ponder how far technology should reach into our lives. Whether our society would retain the basic elements that make us human and that have allowed for us to succeed for so long if we make significant alterations to the life that we now live. Innovation and disruption can only go so far without completely altering our inherent nature; however, right now we are entering a slippery slope and risk losing our own identities as humans. Although this might mean a grim outlook on the future, it is one that can easily be avoided with a few careful steps, but we must take those steps right now as we develop new technologies, specifically, “the metaverse”.

Because of the pandemic, we have been forced to adapt to working from home, that is obvious. However, others made it their goal to make a dedicated workspace-environment at home. That can be done through simple measures such as “zoom meetings” which allow you to see your peers and create the illusion that they are right in front of you, however, they are really just pixels on a 2D screen and cannot truly replace the genuine sensation of meeting people face to face. This brings us to “the metaverse”, transporting yourself into a different world from your own, outside of this universe, (not literally), but instead creating your own avatar to which you can relate. This is a fairly simple idea that began as science fiction, but may now well become a reality. 

To truly understand the potentials of a “metaverse”, we must first trace it back to its roots. Although you might not know it, we have all entered “the metaverse” before, through digital media:  film, music, or video games. We have all poured ourselves into an alternate world to experience the story of a character. We are projecting ourselves into a set story, and although in video games you are still physically playing it, the game still has a set path for you to follow and a clear start and finish, unlike real life. But as our technology developed, we made a major breakthrough: the internet. This allowed every individual in the world to be able to connect with each other and express our own thoughts and feelings through our digital figure, an avatar.  This is truly the embodiment of what Neal Stephenson, the author of the novel Snow Crash in which he coined the term “metaverse”.

Moving on to the future applications of the multiverse, Roblox, an online gaming platform allows players to create their own avatar and play different games with other real people online. This introduced a whole new level of interactivity to the idea of a metaverse. As Roblox CEO David Baszuki stated, “the pandemic was a bit of a validation that the metaverse … it’s much bigger than gaming, it’s a way to be together in all aspects of life when they can’t be together in person.” And a few days after this interview on Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money” program, Facebook dropped a bombshell that they would be having virtual reality offices called a Metaverse in your home without the need to see an actual person face to face. Zuckerburg is so excited about this idea that he has invested over $10 billion and renamed the Facebook media group as a whole “meta”. Consider this for a second, you could work in an office with your colleagues and collaborate normally, without having to leave your home. However, this new technology raises the question mentioned at the beginning of this article, will this separation truly reflect the human collaborative nature that has brought us so far? Is this the new normal, will this tear apart the fabric that allows our society to succeed? I may be overdramatic, but I seriously think that if we let our avatars show more of us than we do, then we could see a major overhaul in our day to day lives.