The metaverse will apparently be the most popular topic of discussion at MWC this year. Ironically, it may also be the first viable physical event in a couple of years.
Barely a day goes by without some new issue or angle being discussed. The metaverse will change our lives. The metaverse will be extraordinary and cool.
But watch out for the perverts, hackers and dysfunctional experts trying to persuade you it is the future – and luring you in.
The Head of GSMA Intelligence certainly believes that the metaverse will be a hot topic at MWC but we have already concluded (before we even know what it/they will really look like) that mobile operators will have little to do with it, except provide the connectivity and bandwidth. And Cathy Hackl, a Chief Metaverse Officer (no, really!) believes that it should be discussed at MWC and we must “focus on real-world challenges to ensure it is not overhyped.”
The metaverse will (already has) create more challenges than even Meta will be able to handle. Apart from the harassment, hacking and identity theft which will go on, feedback is already coming in that no one really wants it.
According to this Millennial (who has spent most of his life in virtual worlds) the metaverse will be more of a “capitalist technocratic nightmare” than a digital nirvana. He watches with horror as Big Tech invests billions of dollars a week on the ‘metaverse bet.’
At the same time he believes that the picture that people like Mark Zuckerberg paint of this digital nirvana is so lame as to be spiritually bereft.
He doesn’t want any part of it.
The metaverse will be the future, according to Zuckerberg and his peers.
It could also be the most expensive mistake in the rich history of expensive mistakes. What happens if they build it – and no one comes? It has happened before.
As our Millennial says, the problems that exist in the real world exist in the virtual. In fact, he says, homophobia, gender bias, extremism, exploitation and the rest are amplified because in the real world real people are watching. In the metaverse, it is easier to get away with all that bottled up nastiness.
The metaverse will make Gen Zers (and Millennials) feel better about themselves once they are there. Which means they will feel even worse about themselves when they fall out into the real world. And that is before the virtual world turns bad.
Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse, spiritually bereft as it is, is also ridiculously simplistic. For it to have any chance of not being a seething pit of nastiness, people need to work out how to police it, what the rules there should be and how to enforce them (and not just with people blocking and dumping avatars). All of which is impossible, partly because no one country or company will own it.
That the MWC experts should be overhyping it by telling us we shouldn’t overhype it is ridiculous. And they are nibbling at the edges of something that is far too big for mere humans to contemplate or control.
It is, of course, possible that we are wrong.
It is possible that the metaverse will be the most insanely cool thing ever. But it is more likely that it will create an endlessly growing swamp of real life problems.
And anyway, metaverses and virtual worlds are already everywhere you look. So, frankly – why bother?