What’s the big deal about the Metaverse?
No more being confined to the meat suit we call a body.
On October 29, 2021 a significant historical event occurred: Facebook changed its name to Meta. Alongside this, Mark Zuckerberg presented a 77 minute keynote of just what that means. It’s worth a watch, but here’s a quick recap: Facebook is going all in on the metaverse and the future is going to be wild.
Why does this matter to you? If you use Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp (like the 3.5 billion of us daily), you will be subtly drawn into the metaverse. At first it will be slow, but before you know it you’ll be participating in a virtual orgy at Burning Man from the comfort of your own couch. Whether you like it or not, the metaverse is coming and you might be coming in the metaverse. We will be rendered choiceless but to create a sexy avatar and join the fun.
The thing about the metaverse which will be fundamentally different to planet Earth, is that you won’t be confined to the meat suit we call a body. You’ll be able to teleport anywhere you want. You’ll be able to create infinite worlds so vastly different to the one you were programmed into. You’ll work and play virtually. People will spend more of their waking life in the metaverse than on Earth. Think I’m joking? Go look at your screen time on your phone – you’re already doing it, just a shit version.
The word “metaverse” was first coined in the 1992 dystopian sci-fi novel, Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. In the book, the metaverse is the sum of virtual and augmented realities which people can access using goggles. As Zuckerberg explains in his keynote, “meta” means ‘behind or beyond’. It can also mean ‘transformative’ (think metamorphosis). “Verse” derives from the word “universe” and describes either a specific sphere or area. The “metaverse” generally refers to a virtual world that lies beyond, on top of, or is an extension of the physical world.
The whole Meta presentation sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts. The people who say the Matrix is a documentary just added a little more arsenal to their argument. The world as we know it and virtual worlds are colliding quicker than ever. Metaverses are popping up all over the place, like Wilder World built by artists and living on the blockchain. We will build millions of metaverses and eventually these worlds will become so lifelike it will be hard to distinguish between the real and the Meta. Which makes you think, are we in one right now? The odds that we are in the genesis metaverse are one in a million. But it sure feels real.
Let’s imagine for a second (or at least for the rest of this article), that we are in a virtual world. You are the main player. The game is your life and you have one life. I’m here to tell you that what you experience is not really reality, it’s your reality – but it’s not THE reality. In fact, no one knows the real reality because you are only as informed as your point of view.
Our brains try really hard to make sense of reality but the problem is there is simply too much information. Our brains need to act fast, and despite our best efforts, we can’t remember everything and even when we do, how we ascribe meaning to that memory shapes the way we perceive it. The world is a mess and the brain tries it’s best to clean it up but this cleaning process creates cognitive bias.
Here are some scientifically studied truisms of the brain:
+ We favour simple–looking options and complete information over complex, ambiguous options
+ We edit and reinforce some memories after the fact
+ We store memories differently based on how they were experienced
+ We are drawn to details that confirm our own existing beliefs
+ We project our current mindset and assumptions onto the past and future
+ We imagine things and people we’re familiar with or fond of as better
+ We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories
+ We notice flaws in others more easily than we notice flaws in ourselves
+ To stay focused, we favour the immediate, relatable thing in front of us
So when you see something, and your friend sees something, you might see the same thing – but how you experience it is entirely different. If this world is virtual and your experiences are fundamentally different from the person next to you, what is the truth?
The truth is, there is no truth. No certainty. What one person sees / hears / tastes / touches / smells can be so vastly different to whatever you experience. So what’s the point of arguing? What’s the point of being right or wrong? Why can’t everyone be right?
When you are born, your consciousness springs to life. Earth is your metaverse. As you develop, your world is shaped by your early experiences, your family and your environment. As you grow into adolescence, you start to find your own way. You start to discover who you are but your world is largely still defined by your early years. A lot of people never venture further than that world view, and they pass that view onto their children and the metaverse becomes more concrete. But here is the exciting part: it’s your metaverse and you can change it. You get to decide how you view your world.
This is the concept behind the best selling book Psycho-Cybernetics – that you are the operator and you can self regulate. The world you believe is your metaverse. The choice is always yours. Holocaust survivor and inventor of logotherapy Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Once you start creating your own reality, you start attracting other people doing the same. Dreamers, doers, creatives and visionaries. It might not be obvious, but you’ll get deep into a late night chat and realise there is a reason you were attracted to this person. There’s a good to fair chance if you’re reading this right now, you are in the fine cohort of people taking control of your own universe and ultimately your own destiny.
Creating your own reality comes with a big caveat: don’t hurt people, don’t be mean and don’t be an asshole. But if you do choose that direction, know you will attract other people just like you – and that’s a pretty shitty metaverse to hang out in.
I admire people who choose their own way, people who are running their own race. The people who know there is no finish line. They are playing infinite games, games we can all win, games where everyone can be right. We don’t need to be the way we are formed or conform to the environment we were brought up in. It’s one big video game where no one gets out alive.
Enjoy the ride and be nice to people on the internet and IRL.
Your friend, Barron