And some of us will just continue to have a real life.
Yes, but the point of the article surely is that it will be increasingly few of us? And what is left of ‘real life’ will be increasingly threatened by these bozos with their digital starships and NFT elves. We’re not going to be able to just look away.
…we won’t have to look away, because the metamorons with their goggles on, won’t even notice us !
The thing is you will be alone. Suicide rates among young people are skyrocketing. Virtual company is a poor substitute for social and physical connection. Deep down we all know this. Unfortunately as the virtual world becomes more human-like, the real world is becoming more machine-like.
“but can gain all the reassuring benefits of human interaction with them” – no, VR cannot communicate touch or the human presence of the soul. FaceTime is a wonderful gift but cannot be as fulfilling as face-to-face, skin-to-skin, spirit-to-spirit. I recall those desperate orphans after the fall of Communism in Romania who had been left in cots without touch or human warmth. They were permanently harmed in their psychological and social development. Even kind fostering couldn’t seem to break through.
I would predict that the Metaverse will have similar parallel outcomes: shrivelled souls and social paranoia; offence easily taken and normal interactions viewed as aggressions; justifying violence against anyone outside your ideological cohort; an inability to form stable sexual relationships; fear of emotionally opening the heart sufficiently to create lifelong committed relationships.
Yes, I recall watching those images of those orphans, it must have been in the early part of 1990.
And God love ‘em!
What is the drive behind this virtual lifestyle proposed? To better the world? To make it more secure? To reduce the carbon in the atmosphere? To bring King John Him, or Kim rather, or whatever his name is, to heel? To rid the world of the fear of nuclear annihilation?
This Metaverse plug reminds me of the moment in the 1980s movie of “Planes, Trains, And Automobiles”, when Del Griffith, shower curtain ring sales director for Industrial Light & Magic, aka John Candy (peace be … bless his dear soul), the late and magnificent John Candy in real life, when Del Griffith goes about the concourse of the main bus station in Louisville, Kentucky, selling his different shower curtain rings to passers-by as anything but. Earrings, chiefly. He’s desperate for quick cash. His schtick (crudely, from my memory) is to rabbit on about this or that pair (that he dangles before the eyes of sceptical-looking or bored travellers) being once owned by the 4th century grand wizard of China (as “they are made from ivory”), “your very own Diane Sawyer set”, “they are filled with helium … so they are very liiightt”, and, to a trio of young teenage girls, “… and they make you look an awful lot older”.
“What is the drive behind this virtual lifestyle proposed?”
Facebook got stale and is rebooting itself.
“Individuality will dissolve into the unified mindset of one’s chosen monocultures.”
The Welsh-English writer, novelist and WW1 veteran, Charles Morgan, in the immediate aftermath of WW2, wrote a short essay, The Uncommon Man (from his collection Reflections In A Mirror), in which he believed, optimistically, that “the coming age” would be that of The Uncommon Man, rather than The Common Man.
In it, he scoffs at the “sea-green regimenters” who would cast a cloak of grey over the people. He scoffs at the socialist mindset’s dogma of the people as “the masses”. He says that there is no such thing as “the masses”. Predicting that he might be accused of élitist, privileged nonsense from his writer’s eyrie, he says, in relation to his critics, that nobody lives in an ivory tower so windowless as theirs. He gives the example of a dozen sailors rowing a small boat at night, and, having reached the shore, when glimpsing their faces in the light of their pipes on the quay, you see a man encased in his own flesh, each an individual, sunken in his own thoughts. Woe betide the man of God who sees only the Common Parishioner and not the child of God! – to paraphrase him from his essay.
He knew what he was talking about. He had served on Royal Navy ships during WW1 and been a POW on the Belgian-Dutch border. But read his essays for yourself. Charles Morgan has been praised very highly as being one of the best prose stylists of the 20th century.
So what you are seeing with the immersion of humans into digital soups, where they end up as drones and robots, is nothing less than a great disservice to mankind. It’s totalitarian. It is tyranny!
Will there be any teenage boys left learning how to play acoustic guitar or the piano? Who know how to make a dinner? Change a tyre? The digital wreckers ought to hang out with Ukrainian refugee families to get some perspective on life.
I’m curious as to how many people actually spend most of their time in virtual worlds, and for how many years, before they get bored and stop doing it. I may be wrong but I suspect it’s a bit like twitter – much talked about, but used by a minority.
It is even more insidious. I have a friend(actually not me) who operates on Twitch and you build or set yourself into a community of like minded people. Difference here is that he will have allotted slot times to produce his work and will let others know. If you don’t meet that time, your followers(and I guess online friends) will find someone else to talk to or watch.
Best analogy might be if you go to the bar with the same folks and suddenly you stop going, you won’t be interacting with them at all. Now just imagine that everyone you know is in the bar all the time.
A large swath of people operate their lives like this, mainly younger people.
I’m not on Facebook.
I am someone who is overwhelmed by the advances in technology that have enabled the virtual world. I am astonished, every time, at how real the world looks and feels when I put on my Oculus.
The virtual world will be another major power in the de-moralisation of people.
The internet brought in unlimited hard porn and anonymity of abusers – with men pretending to be young girls, for example.
The virtual world is adding a new level to this. People join and then virtually perform sexual acts. Who knows who is behind the images? Facebook is having to create boundaries around characters and remove the hands when they get too close.
Even in fighting games the designers have introduced the concept of ‘skins’ that you take on as you move up the levels – with some being male and some female and so it is becoming more natural for boys to be wearing a female skin.
We all know that the social credit system will be widespread in the virtual world which will cause untold harm to our young people as they get pressured or excluded from groups unless they comply with virtual government rules.
We are handing over more control to people who do not have moral principles but who are simply driven by financial goals that are tightly bound with the political pressures of the day.
A virtual starship cannot bombard a real planet, nor can it boldly go anywhere. Virtual trainers will not keep your feet dry nor will you be able tell whether they will fit well or not. An NFT won’t let you wear your hat to keep warm (or go to a wedding) so it will remain difficult to show it off to real people or at an event.
It will, perhaps, herald the opposite of what happens now, go to a store, try the shoes on and then buy them online because they’re cheaper!
Habbo Hotel already did all of this twenty years ago. I’m not quite sure where Zuckerberg’s revolution is meant to be.
God help us all!
Interesting analysis, thanks David. I think you’re spot on about the “fragmenting” and “groupthink” aspects of metaverses, and how people increasingly have been drawn into living their lives online.
But while I agree with your social predictions, I’m less convinced on the technical side, and for that reason, I’m not convinced that metaverses will have such a wide and strong appeal. I remain consistently unimpressed with the simulation quality of video games. IMO, they remain slow, jerky, and unconvincing. My standard has always been Dragon’s Lair, an interesting game from the 1980s. It used a large laser disk for gameplay, projecting an animated world. The video quality was great (Think Anastasia, as former Disney animator Don Bluth was involved with both projects.). That imposed limits–limited “paths” and flicker/pauses when the character selected one or the other–but I think it showed where metaverses will have to arrive to really attract people. Will they get there? Dunno…
If anyone is interested, you can see screenshots of Dragon’s Lair on the web, and there are probably YouTube videos too.
I would suggest that you need to be updated on modern gaming.
Storytelling is very strong in the latest and the representation of worlds has got to the point where they actually look better than the real thing.
Dragon’s Lair was ahead of its time, but had very limited story branching by modern standards. Today, think an interactive film that last 100 hours and can be replayed with different outcomes.
The ‘technical’ is increasingly there.
Social atomisation, as the article discusses, is a genuine threat to a significant minority in the near future, however.
They claim you can earn real money on the metaverse even as scary as it is. Let’s find out how true that is, shall we?