The Metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual reality future of the Internet isn’t getting off to a great start. The BBC recently sent a reporter into the Metaverse wearing Meta’s fancy new Quest headset, and guess what she found? A lawless den of strip clubs patrolled by a bunch of anonymous 3D idiots threatening to rape young girls.
For your viewing pleasure
Pornography has always lead the growth of the Internet so I’m not surprised to see virtual strip clubs dominate the early Metaverse. However, this porn is even worse. There are real people hiding behind the anonymity of virtual avatars and threatening real violence in real-time. Moreover, since the environment is completely interactive by design, these cloaked users can speak to you as easily as on a Zoom call.
Just because it’s virtual don’t make it any less real
The Metaverse is not the Internet, and it’s not social media – it is something different. The Metaverse is a virtual reality ‘world’ where ‘physical’ digital manifestations of real people interact on a more physical level. I may be represented by a cute digital icon or avatar while I wander the Metaverse, but it is still me.
If someone threatens physical violence against my avatar, they are actually threatening me behind my VR goggles. The Metaverse is meant to be hyper-personal, so unlike the Internet, you don’t get to hide behind a text message from an anonymous bot account. You’re physically assaulting my virtual representation in real-time.
It’s not water under that bridge
Can you imagine trolling in the Metaverse if the same rules apply as those currently on Facebook? You spend $500 on some funky Meta Quest goggles, login to the Metaverse, and accidentally say the wrong thing. Suddenly your avatar is being overwhelmed and bullied by thousands of other avatars blocking your journey through the Metaverse.
Social Media has created a monster that is entirely unsuitable as the basis for a virtual reality Internet. Trolling, cancel culture, being woke, are all by-products of people hiding behind anonymous likes and comment buttons. Being social in a virtual reality world is completely different so we need new rules to eliminate the real harm caused by virtual assaults.
The current crop of Social Media titans have chosen to make obscene profits through outdated software design instead of creating a new digital environment based on truly understanding how humans relate to each other. They cannot be allowed to convince us that they know what’s best for the Metaverse.
If the foundation of the future Internet enables people to be even worse to each other, count me out.