The Metaverse is Already Terrible
The world you already know, but without any of the good parts.
There’s been a lot of writing about the metaverse lately, much of it focused on what Mark Zuckerberg actually means when he says Facebook (or Meta) is creating one. But I was reminded of an article from early October that I think gets at what a metaverse might actually look like.
I increasingly think the metaverse—to the extent it ever even exists in a meaningful way— is going to be like a virtual-reality LinkedIn mixed with Times Square, and a sprinkle of Salesforce. As I wrote in my first post on the subject, the metaverse was conceived in science fiction as an escape from a world destroyed by greed and avarice, the natural byproducts of capitalism and commercialism. But in real life, it is shaping up to simply be an extension the real world—specifically the parts that suck. Ads and marketing—and people talking about ads and marketing—blaring in your face. Over there, in an alley, someone will pitch you on the latest bullshit they have developed. Someone you haven’t seen in a million years running up to you telling you about their new job, and THEN pitching you on the latest bullshit they are selling. It will be a dystopian hellscape populated by everyone you try to avoid in real life.
Which brings me to the media conglomerate, Hearst , who is diving right into the metaverse…with a virtual blimp?
From an article in Digiday:
Hearst wants to bring advertisers onto an airship it created in the virtual world of the metaverse.
The idea behind the Hearst Youth + Wellness Group Airship, which will open to new and existing clients starting this fall, is to show the potential in co-branded VR experiences to reach Hearst’s audience of young female gamers. Hearst says its Youth & Wellness Group — which includes Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Seventeen and Clevver — reaches 1 in 3 women who play video games, citing 2020 Comscore data.
From that same Digiday article:
Brands are showing interest in elements of the metaverse, said Dan Holland, svp, product solutions and Dentsu gaming, Americas lead. He called gaming an “excellent test bed” for what he believes is the future of the Internet. This is “especially true” among luxury brands, who can use gaming to reach current and future luxury shoppers with digital products, Holland said. Hearst’s move into the virtual world allows them to engage and reach their audiences with “more immersive experiences,” he said.
Sometimes I feel like I’m either losing my mind or everyone else is. I grew up watching and reading science fiction about how one day robots would take over the world, about how corporate greed and multinational corporations would replace nation states in terms of power and influence, how we’d destroy the planet and have to escape to Mars or invent an alternate, digital existence. Yet, we seem to be walking blindly, even willingly, into all the doomsday scenarios.
So what have our most brilliant minds decided to do? Build a playground for brands. Sure, why not. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you.