Facebook (now Meta) CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently changed the company’s name to Meta in an attempt to be able to project it at the forefront of the up and coming digital frontier called the metaverse. As Zuckerberg celebrates his birthday today, let’s re-examine the metaverse and what his vision for the same is. It all started in June 2021, when Zuckerberg announced that the future of his company would go far beyond the current setup. He claimed that Facebook would strive to build a set of interconnected experiences straight out of the sci-fi world — which was dubbed as metaverse. To simplify, the metaverse is a lot more digital stuff that will just be parallel to a person’s physical life. A collection of virtual worlds, the metaverse will allow users to meet, play, talk and buy stuff. While the idea sounds tempting, in an era where most people are said to have a ‘social media problem’ this can also be a terrifying idea and Zuckerberg’s vision for the same seems to be on an abysmal start.
Most people would agree that too much exposure to social media is unhealthy. Social media has a tangible impact on the mental health of people using them. One of the many reasons could be that these apps trigger a host of unrealistic comparisons. Metaverse, on the other hand, is a step ahead, or probably, multiple steps ahead. Sharing his vision for metaverse, Zuckerberg explained how it will allow a person to be thrown into a virtual video call at any moment. Scary, right?
A report by The Verge talks about Zuckerberg’s address to his employees while he was explaining the new concept. The company’s divisions focused on products for several communities, creators, and virtual reality would work to realise this vision. “What I think is most interesting is how these themes will come together into a bigger idea,” Zuckerberg said. “Our overarching goal across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life.”
The CEO believes that humans will migrate into the metaverse in the future, completely leaving behind the reality for a world which will be created and governed by them entirely. Explaining his vision, he claimed how there will come a time when virtual worlds will be so absorbing that nobody would want to leave, and this is when the metaverse will emerge. While speaking to Lex Fridman in the podcast, he said, “A lot of people assume the metaverse is about a location, but one description of it is a period when immersive digital worlds become the primary way we live our lives and spend our time.”
There have been several reports that suggest how Meta intends to spend the next five to ten years creating an immersive virtual environment. This will include fragrance, touch, and sound. All of this will allow the users to completely immerse themselves in virtual reality.
To quote the words of author Douglas Adams, “This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” While Metaverse became the talk of Wall Street in no time at all, many analysts pointed out that it could be the biggest disruption to human life ever seen. Critics, on the other hand, have warned that it is getting wildly overhyped. They have claimed that it will be difficult to police and termed it as a “regulatory nightmare.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, while speaking to the website Babylon Bee said that he is not in favour of having virtual reality goggles “strapped to your head the whole time.” A Harris Poll also found out that just 38 percent of Gen Zs agree that “the metaverse is the next big thing and will become part of our lives in the next decade.”
Amid all the chaos and different opinions surrounding the idea and Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse, the CEO has claimed that all he cares about is inventing technology to enable people to engage with one another. However, how much truth prevails in his statement is for the time to tell.