In the 1970s, people asked, “What is the internet?” It was a new thing. People wanted to know what it was and how could it change the world? Fast-forward to 2021. The internet is a norm. Almost everyone knows about it. But now everyone is asking: “What is the metaverse?”
In an unprecedented move, Facebook announced that they will be changing their name to Meta. This came after rumors that the company was creating something called the metaverse, which could change how we experience reality in the future.
So, What Is a Metaverse?
The metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash.” It describes an immersive, shared virtual space. The Metaverse is the collective virtual shared space created and experienced online by many people at once.
The word meta- comes from Greek: μετά (metá) meaning “after” or “beyond.” So, the prefix meta- means something that is beyond our current world.
There are plenty of articles that go into detail about what a Metaverse is and its endless possibilities. Let’s break it down for everyone to understand.
It is the virtual world that exists beyond our current world, a place where anything is possible and users can experience anything they want. It is a place where you can be anyone you want to be and do anything you want to do.
Is the Metaverse a New Thing?
Short answer? No. The Metaverse is the future of online interaction and it is already here. Virtual worlds have been around us for a long time. There are video games where you create characters, live their lives, and engage in new experiences.
Sometimes, these online interactions transcend the virtual walls and affect reality. Nowadays, it is common for people to meet online, establish connections, and even meet in real life. Let’s take a look at some examples.
One of the most popular virtual reality platforms is Second Life. Second Life was created in 2003 by Linden Lab and allows users to create an avatar, which is a digital representation of themselves, and interact with other users in a 3D world.
There are many different ways to use Second Life, from social networking to education to business. It has been used for everything from training doctors to hosting political debates. In 2010, the total value of all the goods and services traded on Second Life was $500 million.
One such platform is Sansar, created by Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life. Sansar lets you create your own 3D spaces, known as experiences, and invites others to join you. Furthermore, you can explore experiences created by others or share your own creations with the world.
The world of Sansar allows users to create their own experiences for other users to interact with, which is very similar to Second Life. However, there are some key differences between them. For instance, you no longer need an avatar of your own to explore the world. You can use your own voice and body to interact with the world around you, which gives it a more realistic feel.
Another popular platform is VRChat, which allows users to chat and share experiences in real-time. VRChat is one of the most popular virtual environments available in which people can create avatars and visit other players’ worlds in real-time with complete freedom in terms of movement.
VRChat is also notable for its use of avatars which can be customized to a high degree with different clothes, hairstyles, and accessories. This level of avatar customization gives players a greater sense of ownership over their characters and often leads to them being more expressive than if they were using a generic avatar.
VRChat has been growing in popularity due to its combination of social interaction and creative expression, which is why it is often seen as one of the keystones for developing the metaverse.
Other popular virtual worlds include World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and Halo 5: Guardians. These platforms allow users to explore different worlds, create things, and engage in combat. The potential for virtual reality is endless and it is only going to become more and more popular as technology improves.
Why Has the Word “Metaverse” Taken the Internet by Storm
People are excited about the metaverse because it has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with each other. With the metaverse, we’ll be able to interact with each other in a virtual world that is just as realistic as the real world.
It offers a chance to explore new worlds and play in different realities. People can do things in the metaverse that they cannot do in real life, such as fight monsters and travel across the world without leaving their room. In addition, there is also a chance to make friends across the globe.
The reason metaverse is a trending topic these days is that many technological advances are being made in this area, so many people are excited about the possibilities the future holds for this development.
The Endless Possibilities
In terms of social networking, the metaverse would allow people to connect with each other in ways that are not currently possible. This could include meeting new friends, connecting with long-distance family members or even working online!
When it comes to doing business in the metaverse, many opportunities could be available. For example, people will be able to sell products and services to others within the metaverse. This could include selling physical products or providing tutoring or legal advice services. (*cough*, Runescape)
In addition, people will be able to work from within the metaverse and make money. This would include live concerts and other types of performances as well. This isn’t a new concept and Fortnite’s live events like the Marshmello show and Travis Scott concert are proof of that.
The Metaverse isn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows
One of the major concerns with the metaverse is privacy. The development of a virtual world increases opportunities for escape from reality and threatens individuals’ virtual identities and real-life personas.
A metaverse member’s identity would be their public-facing persona in this alternate reality. For example, they may use an avatar to represent themselves in the metaverse. And while it provides a few benefits, vulnerabilities become apparent with this new kind of online presence.
Therefore, it is easy for someone to collect data on another user in the metaverse. For example, a person’s activities in the metaverse could be monitored by their employer or school. They may also be monitored by other avatar users, who could use this information to exploit the individual in some way. Additionally, there is no guarantee of privacy within the metaverse itself.
Another concern with the metaverse is its potential to negatively affect individuals’ mental health. Since the metaverse is a completely new environment, individuals may find it difficult to distinguish between real and virtual. This can lead to increased feelings of isolation and depression and social anxiety.
Moreover, users may also become addicted to the metaverse; they could spend many hours each day engaging with other avatars, which leaves less time for real-world activities like work or school.
Although the metaverse has several benefits, enough time must be spent considering its possible negative effects. A public dialogue about these concerns must occur for effective policy decisions to be made.
Without this discussion, there is no way of knowing whether or not certain aspects of the metaverse should be regulated from a social standpoint. The internet is already riddled with privacy and safety concerns. Add an unregulated metaverse to the mix and you’ve the perfect recipe for disaster.
So, what’s your take on the metaverse? Is it something you’re looking forward to? Or it seems like a far-off skeptical thought for you? Let us know in the comments below!