With the metaverse becoming more and more of a household phrase, it’s looking like VR is poised to be the next big step in media.
But looking back, there definitely seems to be a distinct level of damage each subsequent major development in how media is delivered impacts society at large.
Starting off with the television. While we all most likely have fond memories of television back in the day, there was some harm that came with it. It ushered in brand culture, an obsession with image over substance, as well as accelerating consumerism and consumption.
While you could argue that some of these things may have even had a positive side to them, say for example how consumerism can stimulate the economy, but overall these are generally considered negative impacts on a healthy culture.
But just like a healthy person can enjoy a tasty junk-food treat every now and then and be just fine, a healthy culture can deal with things such as television’s negative impacts.
Next we had the internet as the obvious next leap in media delivery after television. The internet started rather slowly as far as adoption goes. In fact, it may seem hard to believe now, but in the early days of the internet it was often made fun of as only a place where nerds and weirdos hung out.
If you told someone in 1998 that you met someone on the internet, they would think you were some kind of weirdo. Now, most everyone meets at least one person on the internet for a date or other encounter.
Then after that we had social media as the next big leap, which is where we currently are. Social media started a little slow, although not as slow as the internet, but as soon as smartphones hit the mainstream, social media took off and quickly became the dominant media delivery medium.
Of course, with it has come plenty of problems that I’m sure you’re aware of. Like an incredibly divisive society that appears to be easily manipulated into almost any belief, even if that belief makes no sense, as we’ve seen with the pandemic.
Some people even argue that the damage caused by social media appears to be permanent, and there seems to be no answer to the division and manipulation currently at play in mainstream society.
While that may be true and our society is truly in peril, another form of media is just on the horizon, and this one could make social media look like AM radio.
The metaverse seems to be the name everyone has settled on. Whether by choice or by Mark Zuckerberg’s will, that’s what everyone is calling virtual reality.
With units such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift or other similar VR headsets, users can enter a virtual world where they meet up and communicate with other virtual representations of real world people.
Of course, the technology is new and somewhat clunky, and often it’s made fun of. Very similar to the early days of the internet. But as we know, things can change very quickly with the advent of one new breakthrough device, the way smartphones made social media explode in popularity.
We are probably at that stage right now with the so-called metaverse. We are one device away from it exploding like social media did. Eventually some company will make a stand-alone VR system that is as easy to use as the first iPhone was. No complicated setup, no technical jargon. Just put it on and power it up and suddenly you are in a new world that you can take with you anywhere.
When the VR version of the first iPhone does hit the market, it will most likely signal the end of human interaction as we have known it. Already, just with social media and the pandemic we have seen how human interaction has been forever changed in many parts of society. Working from home, contact-less-everything, and social anxieties are everywhere.
Now imagine once people start spending a majority of their time in the metaverse instead of social media. All these problems will likely increase by orders of magnitude over what they are now.
Sadly, this seems to be a forgone conclusion at this point. The same way social media and television were before it. I just fear that our society is at such a crucial and delicate stage right now, that the metaverse might just be enough to destroy whatever is left of normal human interaction once and for all.
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