I Want No Part of Our Impending Metaverse Future
Facebook is now officially a Metaverse company after announcing its rebrand to Meta at its Connect 2021 keynote. Its collection of apps and projects will all fall under this umbrella, a move the company hopes will put out some of the fires burning on its doorstep, drawing attention away from Facebook. (Nice try.)
But the name change was only part of the show. The real meat of the presentation was the Metaverse. While we’ve already seen the Horizon Workrooms demo, which looked like being trapped inside a world with Nintendo Wii avatars (without the fun sports games), here we were given further glimpses into how Zuckerberg sees the technology working and integrating with our lives.
It was less of a dream and more of a dystopian nightmare.
The demo began with Mark going full Ready Player One, as he metaphorically put on his Oculus/Smart Glasses/insert future technology and stepped into the Metaverse. The visuals turned futuristic — it looked like he was entering the Matrix, perhaps very fitting — and suddenly, everything was virtual. He walked around his ‘homespace,’ a lush home filled with views of palm trees and water before his bliss was interrupted by a notification. After choosing something to wear — an opportunity for Facebook to make billions selling digital items? — he is suddenly floating in space with friends’ avatars, one of whom happens to be a giant robot. Next, friends (real people) appeared in the Metaverse through video calls in a strange mashup of virtual, audio and video. We caught glimpses of other things including Horizon Home, essentially a social hub, Horizon Worlds, where users can build virtual worlds that they can enter, and saw how digital items could be shown in the real world through AR.
I’ll admit. It looked fun… at least for a minute. If someone gave me an Oculus and let me roam around space, or take a trip to the beach, or build my dream home, I’d certainly give it a whirl to satisfy my curiosity. But then, I’d take my headset off and be immediately confronted with the reality that none of it is reality.
It’s important to consider why the company is moving in this direction. Yes, the branding makes business…