What is the Metaverse?

A basic sentence to explain the Metaverse (Meta) is that the future of social media is evolving from scrolling through an app, to climbing into a VR world and meeting up with friends, virtually.

Let's break this down a bit further.

The Simpsons plugging into 'the internet'.

The practicality of entering a digital world like popular films The Matrix or Ready Player One is nothing new, especially in the gaming world. One of the closest comparisons to the Metaverse currently in the marketplace is a game called VR Chat.

In VR Chat you can jump into virtual rooms with other people using a VR headset, walk around and talk to other members.

VR Chat - A room full of gamers interacting with each other.

The world of VR Chat can be a pretty 'cancerous' environment if you're not used to random strangers verbally screaming at you. Though some memes were invented in the VR Chat realm such as Uganda Knuckles to the delight of kids in 2018, the best way to learn more is to watch videos on YouTube to gather your own impression.

As you can tell from the picture, the majority, if not all the users in VR Chat use avatar characters rather than something closer to how the user looks in real life.

In the gaming world there has been incredible developments in recent years, and there's an entire audience devoted to VR entertainment which has some very impressive capabilities already when it comes to interacting with objects in the surrounding VR environment.

Introducing the Metaverse

According to the official trailer featuring Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) the Metaverse will be a peaceful, clean, entertaining environment to explore with your connections, full of fun environments. Early footage featured in the trailer shows Mark's avatar (or yours) entering a room of his / your friends meeting up for the purpose of socialising.

The Metaverse Trailer - Mark meets with his friends for a card game.

This is as far as I'll go in terms of the features available in the Metaverse because the platform is still just a concept (except maybe in small pockets around Silicon Valley) and traction is only just building as companies are now discussing ways they can get in on the futuristic platform.

There's a lot of potential and advantages to the Metaverse, and it could be the beginning of something we've seen several times in movies and TV. You could meet up with long-distant friends every day, even though they're physically half way across the world.

You could perhaps be more formal and hold a company meeting with executives, suppliers, manufacturers and other key members without the need to travel or break down a discussion between phone calls and emails.

It's core value towards the consumers like you would be to increase your social life and make it easier to connect.

There is also a lot of potential to create new jobs in the real world, not to mention development in hardware.

Apple Glasses - Concept hardware of the future.

Current VR headsets are bulky, heavy, look ridiculous and can cause serious nausea, especially for 1st time users. However if anyone can normalise the VR world it's probably going to be a corporate giant like Facebook, so the prospect of improving eyewear for everyday use is already well under way. A quick Google search highlights several companies that have already released things closer to the Apple Glasses concept, which flopped a few years ago, but maybe were just a few years too ahead of it's time? However even Apple have doubled-down on their VR glasses and have suggested a new product could be released in 2022/23.

In terms of future developments the overall answer is "the world is your oyster, Metaverse." With how advanced technology already is today in the digital market, there's literally no limit to what advances and merges we might see in the Metaverse as long as other companies join the Meta world.

You may for instance find yourself in a private show with you favourite YouTube or Instagram personalities, you could be in a simulated auction house at the house of Ebay, or maybe you'll find yourself walking down the shopping isles of the Amazon hypermarket.

The Elephant in the Room

There's a clear 'but' at the end of every sentence in this article, and it's the down-sides to the Metaverse, and without going into too much detail, there's a LOT of them.

Two of the biggest issues currently circling the mainstream media includes:

  • Facebook

  • Socialisation

Facebook has been in front of the firing squad for what feels like a eternity. In the build-up to Meta especially, Facebook has been called in by Washington several times to respond to political uproar regarding their neglectful nature and for fueling fake news, social divisions, hate speech, full scale wars in the 3rd world, etc. In-fact in a recent court case Facebook admitted its platforms (including Instagram) is toxic.

The concern raised by many journalists today is that Facebook have quickly renamed and rebranded themselves instead of fixing the platforms current problems.

Then there's the issue that comes with social media impacting our everyday social skills.

Though it (The Metaverse) hasn't been widely covered in the mainstream yet, a world revolved around meeting people virtually will absolutely effect our capabilities of meeting people in the real world.

What has already been widely covered is the effect social media's had on our mental health over the last 10 years, especially the younger generations who're being raised in front of a screen more than they are in front of real people and real life situations.

If Meta are adamant they are going to take us from current social media to a completely fictional new world, you can only imagine what psychological implementations this is going to have on teenagers of today, and the generations to come.

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