The Metaverse Will Never Happen
How do I know? Because I’ve seen 3D movies.
As a 50-year-old man, I am rooting for the transition to the metaverse, where my hair will always be thick, my Cialis prescription unfilled, and my history cleared.
I wrote a 2015 Time magazine cover story on virtual reality titled “The Surprising Joy of Virtual Reality — And Why It’s About to Change the World.” I did not actually believe it was going to change the world other than in the broadest sense, much like how this Medium column will change the world in that the world now has one more Medium column. But my editors figured “Virtual Reality… Meh” wouldn’t sell subscriptions.
Virtual reality is, however, indeed joyful. It’s really fun for gaming. It’s a huge step forward from lava lamps for marijuana enthusiasts. But that’s not why Mark Zuckerberg paid a 21-year-old kid named Palmer Luckey, who wears Hawaiian shirts and sandals and majored in journalism before dropping out of California State University at Long Beach, $2.3 billion for his VR company.
Zuckerberg believes VR is the final platform, the end of an evolution from cave painting to the printing press to photography to radio to video. It’s where we’ll shop, socialize, play poker on a space station with a robot friend, hold meetings, and — if I can guess the way a guy like Zuckerberg dreams — have sex with a second Mark Zuckerberg.
I know none of this will happen. Because I’ve seen 3D movies.
In 1952, when my father was a tween — which was a term they didn’t use back then, preferring “workers” — movie theaters embraced an exciting new platform: three dimensions. House of Wax was 1953’s fourth highest-grossing film, beating Shane and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. People put on half-green, half-red cardboard glasses, reached out to grab things that weren’t there, laughed in embarrassment, pulled their arms back over their dates’ shoulders, and started “necking.”
People quickly got bored and 3D movies went away for 30 years, when the tech improved and Jaws 3-D was the 15th highest-grossing film in 1983. Everyone got bored again until 2009, when every big budget film came out in RealD 3D, an option people paid extra for. Which is why, even though no one remembers anything besides…