By Bridie Strowe- Bolger ’24
Most of us can agree that FaceBook is for old people, but the company’s rebranding and new $10 million project is about to change that. Most of us have probably also seen the national ad in which Mark Zuckerberg’s digital face looks more alive than his actual one, but on a more serious note, what is the Metaverse? How will this new age affect us and change our world? Will global connection build or break the international ties to come?
For any of you who have read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the Metaverse is kind of like the Oasis. For those of you who haven’t, take a moment to imagine the internet as a 3-dimensional space you can step into. With the help of growing technology, humans can use virtual reality to enter the Metaverse!
But what can we do with the Metaverse? What significance does it hold? What can it do to help our world? These questions have many answers, but the easiest way to answer them all is… Almost Anything! The Metaverse is essentially the internet in 3D, so what can we do with the internet? We hold classes for learning to further the globalization of education, we can meet and discuss issues with people across the world, and we have already added a new edge to modern entertainment!
One example of Meta’s new entertainment is the recent live performance, Mycelia. Audience members, gathered in a digital space, looked up at a dancer suspended in midair while floating in the water below while surrounded by the bejeweled walls of a cave.
Jason Moore, a professor at Brooklyn College, described the performance in an interview with NPR. “You could actually swim underwater during the performance and see. And you could also kind of explore the cave system around the central stage.”
The Metaverse represents the future of the internet and global connection, but as we go forward, we’re reminded of Uncle Ben’s undying words, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The future is still unknown, who will control the Metaverse? Currently, Meta (Formerly Facebook) plans on acting as the backbone for the Metaverse, allowing everyone equal access, but the company faces a lot of suspicion because of their track record. As a company who has shown that they put profit over the well being of their customers, Meta is facing high criticism for their treatment of the situation. The Metaverse Division Vice President, Kushal Shah, defended the company, saying “I think we’re in a better position because we have dealt with those things — to ask the right questions upfront — to ensure that we are thinking about them in a way that can be future-compatible.”
There is a constant pressure in our modern world to update from technology to technology ( Apple’s iPhone being a perfect example of this phenomenon), so the corporate world is very interested in Meta’s new project. Specifically, many investors are betting on Apple’s future role in the Metaverse due to the company’s previous statement of the importance of alternate reality tech in its future. The Metaverse’s representation of an alternate path for Apple has contributed greatly to increased share prices, but the company has yet to release its plans for their Virtual and augmented realities’ future.
With this kind of technology on the rise, our world is bound for a paradigm shift into the fully unknown. Whether we should look forward to this change or not is debatable. Human connection will remain relatively the same for at least a couple years, but with rising availability and lowering cost, the public has easier access to virtual reality gear. More people with VR gear means a larger community in the Metaverse, but there are far more good things to come with this leap than bad, just as long as we learn to keep it that way.