One might think that the social media market is as saturated as it may get, with a range of platforms to choose from or to be present in simultaneously. But as summer light faded into a cool breeze, we have been presented with an upcoming, rebranded version of Facebook. Last week Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta as Facebook’s new name, and he also announced the vision for his company called Metaverse, that he claims will transform the way we interact with the internet and each other. This is already surrounded by a heap of buzz, and we can only assume it will accelerate in the upcoming months.
Simply put, Metaverse, is the next mega phase of internet, one that aims to merge the physical world with AX, VR and AR. To further explain, it will exist as an online world that transcends individual tech platforms to allow existence in immersive, shared virtual spaces. Through created avatars, people will be able to try on new winter jackets in a store, attend a concert, or attend a party with friends. The founder, Mark Zuckerberg, explains it as the embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than looking at. Needless to say, but it will completely change the landscape of how we communicate and interact on a daily basis.
The first of its kind?
While this may seem completely revolutionary, it’s not an entirely new concept. As a time-to-time gamer, I recognize early versions that already exist. MMORPG, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, is a great example of a predecessor, as it constitutes a network of interconnected players within the same virtual worlds. Of course, only with much more limited functionality compared to Metaverse. However, a more recent and thus more relevant example within gaming, is the very popular Fortnite. The game is a virtual world complete with commerce and concerts, which sounds akin to the goals of Metaverse.
To further put this into perspective, ever seen the movie Ready Player One? The movie follows Wade, or his avatar Parzival in the VR universe. Every day, he puts on his VR headset and is then able to immerse himself in the simulated world. In this world, he interacts with friends, completes fierce challenges, and overall has life changing experiences. His “real world” is however dark and post-apocalyptic, thus providing the perfect groundwork for the storyline being set in the virtual world. While the movie is staged in 2045, we’re honestly not too far off technologically speaking.
How will Metaverse affect you?
Now, you might be wondering how this will affect you. Because it without a doubt will, but first we need to look at this from a few different perspectives.
On an individual level, this would mean that you would be able to hang out with friends or potential new friends no matter where they are. In addition, it would provide a much more rich and almost real-life experience compared to that of facetime or chatting. But as with any new medium, there need to be active “players” for it to succeed. For example, while we do have a ton more social media options today, we also see a movement among Gen Z’s that decide to take a step back. This may be fueled by a few reasons, but one is without a doubt linked to mental health. Constantly being online with your phone as a mere extension or complete version of yourself, has according to research deteriorating effect on mental health, including but not limited to depression and anxiety. One can therefore only assume that we will have similar outcome with Metaverse. Friends in my close perimeter have also for the same reason taken a step back, and these are like myself people that grew up disconnected, with only a Nokia 3310 to reach friends.
For businesses, it will open an array of opportunities. Just imagine virtual offices like we’ve never seen before. Businesses with offices located in different countries might be able to feel far more connected. You’d essentially be able to attend meetings virtually with international colleagues, and even go for a virtual After work soiree. In addition, businesses would to a higher extent be able to hire employees located elsewhere. Another great aspect, is that it also opens up the possibility to easier educate employees in different technologies. With VR, we are able to create simulated scenarios to train employees without them having to be physically present.
On the other hand, it requires further development to truly succeed beyond the VR goggle phase. Because I assume I’m not the only one that has a hard time trying to imagine colleagues staring into the black abyss with their VR headset on, while another sit next to them chatting on the phone. But we can assume with time and development, it will be as seamless as a few episodes in Black Mirror where it’s simply a sort of plug-in located on your neck. Another aspect to consider, is that of security and how can we protect individuals and integrity while always being online. In a sense we already are but considering you as a person will be data travelling between networks rather than a chat message, it’s definitely worth taking into account.
Politically speaking, while this aims to bridge the distance gap and further globalize our world, it’s equally as threatening to equality. In a previous post written in our blog, we discussed fiber vs internet which brought up the internet gap which still exists today despite rigorous development in the field. This will inevitably play a part here as well as we can assume that those that can’t afford a phone, also won’t be the first to buy a VR headset or similar. Thus, further fueling a gap between those who are connected and disconnected.
In summary, Metaverse brings an array of questions with it, some positive and some negative. With time, development, and dedicated politics, some of these will probably be answered but it’s still too early to assume an outcome. We are however enticed to see how this will play out, individually, globally as well as for companies. With that said, this is where we stop blabbering on for now and we look forward to writing more as time and development moves on.