I thought the point of dystopian stories were that they are these terrifying worst care scenarios for humanity that we must try to avoid, and yet here we are. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has recently announced they are working on this huge, innovative VR technology called Metaverse. According to Facebook – sorry – Meta, the Metaverse will be “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.” Meta’s goal for this technology is for us to use it as the new internet, but this time in 3D. In typical Facebook Meta fashion, they announce this just as Frances Haugen, a former manager for Meta released documents from the company. A article about this debacle from the Washington Post summarize them as documents that “…detail company research into how it spreads hate, incites violence, and, through its Instagram subsidiary, contributes to teenage girls’ negative body images and suicidal thoughts.”
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Despite the rebranding, META IS STILL FACEBOOK, MARK ZUCKERBERG IS STILL THE OWNER, AND THEY ANNOUNCED THIS RIGHT AFTER BEING CALLED OUT FOR THE HORRIBLE PRACTICES GOING ON WITHIN THE COMPANY. Metaverse is supposed to be a 3D version of the internet, allowing you to do all your internet-ing in VR, sounds cool right? It does sound cool, as someone who absolutely loves VR and how it can be used for art, music, and games; it sounds amazing. However, do you really want Facebook Meta, of all companies, to have access to even more private information about you than they already do? Do you really want the company that has caused the U.S elections and current political climate all over the world to be so awful to control our primary access to information? Regardless of how cool the Metaverse is as a concept, if something like it was inevitable to happen, I would rather it came from almost any
company besides Facebook Meta.
Now, let’s address the ostrich in the room. The Metaverse seems like it will eerily replicate the VR systems in dystopian novels/movies such as Ready Player One. In the novel Ready Player One, practically the entirely of humanity live in these little shipping create-sized houses stacked on top of each other in an environmentally apocalyptic landscape. To avoid the reality of their horrible situation, people practically live in a VR application called “The OASIS.” Considering how the state of the world, the realities our planet is currently facing, and the incompetence or lack of care from the powers that be, we appear to be approaching a future so depressing that the Metaverse might become our OASIS. Now, with this in mind, I ask you again, if this is an inevitability, do you really want Facebook Meta of all companies to be the one to control it?
As a huge VR enthusiast, Metaverse sounds incredibly cool and fun. However, I would much rather it wasn’t controlled by a company like Meta who has a sketchy past they covered up with a shiny new name. Not to mention the timing of its announcement is highly suspicious and makes me want to support it that much less.