Everything You Need To Know About Metaverse
Can you close your eyes and imagine your favourite video game, from when you were younger and how surreal it looked? Now, compare it with the video games today, and how realistic it feels playing these video games. What if you could touch your teammate? What if you could feel them? Much better than controlling characters, right? What if you experience the character’s life? Or rather be in “another universe”?
Neal Stephenson published his novel “Snow Crash” in 1992 (a year after the internet), in which characters create a virtual avatar to escape reality.
Many people believe that Stephenson’s futuristic thinking and his idea of the METAVERSE influenced Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sergey Brin.
What is Metaverse? A Quick View
In March 2021, Google logged the first 100 searches for the phrase “the Metaverse,” a far larger amount than in the previous fifteen years. This has driven many famous people to either critique or applaud the virtual world.
Humanity is going through a huge technological wave. One that is bigger and surpasses all that we have ever witnessed. It is also changing how things work. As defined by Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, and other big names, Metaverse is the next phase of the internet — the next generation of the internet.
An idea that something entirely different could take over the internet sounds wild, right? I knew you’d ask, “what better technology” could replace what we have with social media right now. Well, think of it this way;
How would it feel to watch your favourite football game today and attend a meeting thousands of miles from where you are the next day?
A crazy big idea! This is the goal of the Metaverse. It offers an online space that allows you to interact with other people in more immersive ways.
How Will The Metaverse Function?
In Metaverse, our 2D experience would be transformed into a 3D reality. We will be able to interact, work, learn, shop, and meet up with family and friends in the Metaverse using our avatars.
Okay, this is not the film “Avatar” — An avatar simply means a virtual representation of yourself.
The idea of Video-conferencing seems limited. Since the Metaverse allows your avatar to not only be seen but also to be felt and touched by others. It makes it look just like a reality!
The Metaverse provides more than just sight; it also provides an experience. More than just looking at your device’s screen, you appear to be the main cast. It includes all the features of the Internet plus more; you can attend a concert, a meeting, play games with your friends, visit places you wouldn’t have been able to see physically, and so on.
The Metaverse, unlike the internet, is expected to be an open and decentralised internet made possible by Blockchain technology.
You could own property or digital assets that aren’t under any central control, and these assets can be freely moved and have their ownership transferred.
You could also customise your world to your taste! Not only that, but you could choose to be anywhere you want, with anybody you want, and at any time you want to. That sounds like a great idea!
Since Metaverse is a new technology with unexplored capabilities, no one knows the extent to which things may be done with and via it.
Metaverse And Its Money
Metaverse is envisioned to allow users to interact as they would, in reality, therefore transactions such as buying and selling of real estate, exchanging a valuable piece of information, or carrying out payments will be made possible. Since it will be possible to own properties and digital assets in the Metaverse, there will have to be a medium of exchange of value, and this will be impossible without currencies. It is only logical that a digital world, like the Metaverse, would require digital currency.
Back in 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first block of Bitcoin and got rewarded with 50 Bitcoins that were not so valuable at the time. One could have swapped it for a McDonald’s burger without a tiny feeling of guilt. However, Bitcoin, as well as Blockchain, gained prominence, validity, and value over the years. The 50 bitcoins that you could swap for a piece of burger are now worth 6 Ferrari cars!
Since the creation of Bitcoin, other digital currencies, such as Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, were also created and gained prominence as well.
Just like we have these various digital currencies, there are also some other digital currencies such as MANA (Decentraland), SAND (Sandbox), AXS (Axie Infinity), GALA (Gala Games), ENJ (Enjin Coin) that are often described as Metaverse tokens.
MANA is known as the native currency of the Virtual world, DECENTRALAND. On Decentraland, you can buy lands using MANA or invest in real estate. Those looking to invest in any Decentraland’s project have to use MANA as payment means. The transaction fees are very low because Decentraland recently added native support from the Matic Network. Just like other digital currencies, if it is not in use for transactions, MANA can also be held like stock while it appreciates in value significantly.
Critiques And Concerns About The Metaverse
In Stephenson’s novel, the lead character needed some gears to access the virtual world. We probably require accessories to be fully “immersed” in the virtual world, and you know what this means — endless attempts to get you to buy the latest accessories. Epic Games have spent billions of dollars annually on digital accessories since the creation of the virtual game FORTNITE, a game we can refer to as an early picture of what the Metaverse will look like. In a broadcast released by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, he assured people they are working to make these accessories accessible to everyone so that many people can be part of the “new normal,” Metaverse.
Many have shown concern that there will be diverse side effects to this upgraded internet, the virtual world. For example, some conspiracists have implied that just as the lead character in Stephenson’s Snow Crash was tasked with the sole mission of stopping the computer virus introduced to the virtual world from damaging the player’s brain in real life, the same could be the case if the Metaverse ideology is fully operational. Even though this is speculation, it left us with an unanswered question, what happens if a virus takes over the Metaverse?
The addiction of humans to social media is a major concern to many people, and with the invention of the Metaverse, addiction may become considerably worse. How?
Since you can create your own world, your own reality. You can choose how you want to look and how you don’t want to look, who you’d like to be and who you wouldn’t like to be, what you want to see and what you do not want to see. This seems like freedom.
Now imagine putting off your assisted devices at night and coming back to see your “far from perfect” reality — there comes the feeling of disappointment. This nonsatisfaction lures you back to the assisted device, your reality. So you can be trapped in “your ideal world” so much, making reality unpleasant and less appealing to be in. This could lead to other actions, like withdrawal.
Humans are a social species. We love to interact with other people. Imagine being trapped in an unreal world. What happens to our communication with those around us, those we ought to build bonds with?
Another concern about the Metaverse is the safety of personal data. For the Metaverse to operate, it’ll need some level of access to the information in your brain. How sure are we that users’ information will be kept private as it should?
Cyberbullying is a major issue. Bullying has become simpler to perpetrate with the development of the internet. Anyone may sit behind a keyboard and use inappropriate language to abuse others. With the invention of the Metaverse, cyberbullying could even be worse. Do not forget, all users have access to the Metaverse and this includes cybercriminals, and since the Metaverse is not just about the seeing, but the experience, cyberbullying would feel more real than it would on social media. If meta wants to reduce this to the barest minimum, then they’ll have to be more invasive, monitoring every action and change in an avatar.
The Future Of Metaverse
The future of Metaverse moved from being bleak to achievable 30 years after its first mention in Stephenson’s novel ‘Snow Crash’, and with multi-billion companies investing in what they believe to be the future of the internet, it is becoming very much possible to have an alter ‘universe’, albeit virtual, yet possible. Microsoft created Minecraft based on the Metaverse idea, Epic games created ‘Fortnite’ and Facebook is building her own Metaverse. A whole new world, an entirely different Government, an entirely different law.
The Metaverse is actually here already, and so many companies are investing heavily in it and pushing towards its global acceptance. The Metaverse will be designed to be a world of its own, with its own fashion industries, real estate companies, businesses, and even its own currency. This would affect traditional jobs, while also creating new job opportunities. The future of Metaverse seems bright. It is not something anyone can kick against, but one we have to accept as the new normal.
What Happens To What We Know As “Reality”?
The Metaverse is a great idea. It is the future of technology and this is exciting, especially to the younger generation, although many have termed it a “false reality”, or an “escape from reality.” The idea of the Metaverse leaves some questions in our hearts.
What happens to us?
Will this really help social interaction between humans, or destroy it further?
How will “our reality” affect “the reality”?
Is the Metaverse really the internet’s next big transformation, or is it just an escape from reality?
Unfortunately, the answers to these questions might not be clear to anyone, unless the Metaverse becomes a reality.