Feelings in the Metaverse

[Note to Reader: This is not a piece about the Metaverse/NFTs/Crypto/ Web3 as much as it is about my many disjointed and complicated thoughts and feelings around all of this stuff. If you want to read more on this stuff itself and why I think it’s so dangerous, you can check out this and this and this and this (straight from the horses mouth)].

Rage. Red hot rage. Leaving blisters on my skin hot rage. Till it reaches a temperature so high that it becomes pure white. And then I fall. I open my eyes to see the big blue sky, stretching from one end of the earth to another. It’s a resplendent blue, the type that has whimsical shapes of cotton candy clouds, sometimes dense, sometimes fluffy, bursting forth with the potential it offers for boundless creativity. Will they have this in the Metaverse?

They say it’s the future. That it will change the world as we know it. That it will be the thing that finally takes the human race into the next level. But how? Blockchain isn’t solving the climate crisis. NFTs aren’t doing anything to re-distribute the heinously concentrated levels of capital. And metaverse sure as hell isn’t making anyone forget that the air we breathe and the water we drink and the food we eat is getting increasingly toxic. So what type of future are they really building?

Somedays I feel like the whole world has moved ahead leaving behind me and my analogue ideas. I see my friends jumping headfirst into becoming micro-influencers, social media marketers, digital artists, crypto-traders, content creators. I remember how in early 2018 I discovered that one of the categories Facebook had grouped me into was a ‘late adapter to technology.’ I still remember the sting of embarrassment I had felt, despite knowing better, looking down at my two models behind iPhone. How long before it is me who is rendered obsolete? 

Is it as bad as you say it is? Is the Metaverse really that big of a problem? You like to read don’t you. Imagine this. Imagine your favorite author, the woman whose words make you believe for one brief second that everything is alright. Well, she is hosting a reading on the Metaverse. You can sit in a cozy little bookstore while she reads out an excerpt from her latest novel. And then when she finishes you can raise your hand and ask her your questions and have her look at you as she answers and finally at the end of the event you can walk up to her and ask her for a personal digital autograph, all the while sitting at the opposite end of the planet. Will you not be even slightly tempted?

Some of us have endless green gardens at our disposal, some of us make do with a single tree outside our window and some of us are surrounded by heaps of waste so highly toxic that no living thing can emerge. How can there be one metaverse when our worlds are so different?

You are sitting in your room. A tiny, crowded space, in a massive, crowded city, in the wrong side of town in the wrong side of the globe. It’s hot, hotter than it’s ever been in your already pretty hot tropical country. Electricity cuts are normal, so you don’t have anything but your own hand fanning your face. Sweat is dripping down the side of your face, the heavy leather headset that’s been on you for hours making things worse. You are attending an office meeting in the metaverse where things are always fresh, dewy, and sanitized. A mosquito sits on your arm, and you slap it. You’ve learnt to kill those pesky little pests even without being able to see them. How long till they can upload my body into the metaverse?

They’ll say it’s opt in. No one’s going to force you to go to the metaverse. It’s always going to strictly be your choice. But is it really? Is being on Facebook/Twitter/Whatsapp/Instagram really our free choice. Is the endless scrolling, the countless ads, the constant consuming, the emotional exhaustion, the changes in human behaviours, is that all the result of our free volition? Let this be a reminder to myself that even if I didn’t opt in- I do need to opt out. Because if I don’t stop scrolling now, if I don’t resist the power of a small box that I can switch off and keep aside, how will I resist when they come to alter our whole reality?