The metaverse is hogwash

If you wanna live till after the feast of rebranding cyberspace to metaverse, not being sacrificed on the altar of corporate malarkey, remember that your considered lifestock to be farmed, and don´t think you are exempt from slaughter…

Prepare yourself. The Metaverse is coming – if you want it or not. High probability is that you don´t and that you have to read one article after the other analysing and explaining the announcements so that you have an inkling about what you SHOULD want. I call the whole idea “drivel”, “balderdash”, “phooey”, “poppycock”, “bunkum” – essential corporate moonshine to sell you something, which nowadays usually means subscriptions …

I’m more of the metaverse = bullshit group (like Fenlon of PC Gamer, see below) so maybe the irony of some bullish articles doesn’t qualify as criticism for me. I simply can’t imagine that it will catch on, not even if they pay people (with crypto bribes) to fill it and stay for a while. I come from the generation “fascination cyberpunk” with Neuromancer and Snow Crash as formative ideas, the Internet as an open society and democratic saviour and “economic paradise of opportunities” that irons out all inequalities. That was before the AAMAs (Alphabet – Apple – Meta – Amazon), formerly GAFAs (Google – Apple – Facebook – Amazon) divided the cake and our Western democracies got sold to the highest bidder or loudest Populist clown with the help of micro-targeting (Cambridge Analytica, anyone?)…

Blinoffilya, Second Life, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, then we had the first bubble, of course, and a financial crisis. And if not, if all fails, we imagined there would be cypherpunks and whistleblowers and cyberware enhanced mutants to take on the zaibatsus and state control, right? Chrome and code. Where are they? Of whom have you heard? Assange? In prison. Snowdon? Now a Russian citizen (sigh). No bionic new arm or fancy exoskeleton for the thin purse of worldwide precarious labour, I am sorry. And coding is a wizardry for the few who do not want to storm the Capitol or binge-watch their ambitions away (well, you can binge watch and learn how to code, but that is beside the point – it is a miniscule minority, most of the planet remain coding analphabets…).

None of the cyberpunk dreams became true (maybe wikipedia and creative commons), but some of the nightmares, and now you want to force us to accept a cooked up idea of Second Life for “everyone” and make it interoperable ? How? And more important. WHY? All the values, all the achievements that you are discussing from a future perspective, we wished for the Internet, and then the platforms and states took over that monitor us, make us vote and suck us dry with subscriptions.

We live in a dystopia where I don’t see a corporate idea like the metaverse “saving” the watered down and fragmented democracy and opinion-forming process – on the contrary, it will undermine and hide it behind mediocre 3D scenes. Ever more bling bling, even more distraction. It’s probably closer to horror than salvation. It feels like a re-branding campaign from “cyberspace” to “metaverse” without doing anything substantially different (awesome! great!) new! now (and not in 10 years!) to show.

Why does the metaverse in many articles only have positive, utopian sides (see e.g. Petermfriess & Alain Ruche (2022) The Metaverse – Did we escape a boring virtual world? Yes, we did – thanks to inspired entrepreneurs and artists) A look back from the future of the metaverse does not render the actual situation and prospects beautiful. I don’t think the metaverse is what we WANTED, it’s an old, robbed and borrowed notion that also needs to show its uses and benefits. We didn’t want that, it’s being pushed on our eyes. ready player one? No. I don’t see the Metaverse-Fluid entrepreneurs coming making a buck, I see platform capitalism at its peak and certainly no self-sufficiency for the contributors. Of course, artists should become the architects, but like in Second Life, that can backfire on top of some “success” stories. Most got molken.

The Linden Dollar did not become the new super currency. Even Bitcoin and Ethereum are struggling. Who will rule the metavers(es)? Some may muse that the artists will fabricate a decision filter for the companies, which then in turn also recognise this “regulation”, but I think that’s hopelessly naïve. They will get ripped off as talents and get underpaid, as before. We’re not invited into the metaverse narratives to change them, we’re allowed to use them for a fee (sometimes of course a free play “with benefits” and hidden costs, that’s it. Everybody is late in joining the metaverse because they were late in the idea in 2021 – everyone is late, because the idea is late. 😉

I’m sticking with those guys, seasoned editors and tech reviewers who are bearish and less enthusiastic:

“In the months since Facebook’s rebrand, the concept of “the metaverse” has served as a powerful vehicle for repackaging old tech, overselling the benefits of new tech, and capturing the imagination of speculative investors. But money pouring into a space doesn’t necessarily mean a massive paradigm shift is right around the corner, as everything from 3D TVs to Amazon’s delivery drones and Google Glass can attest. The history of tech is littered with the skeletons of failed investments. […] But to a certain extent, the tech industry writes large depends on futurism. Selling a phone is fine, but selling the future is more profitable. In reality, it may be the case that any real “metaverse” would be little more than some cool VR games and digital avatars in zoom calls, but mostly just something we still think of as the internet.” 😉

Eric Ravenscraft in

Wes Fenlon of PC Gamer is more radical, and closer to what I think:

“Social media and telecom companies are evidence enough that consolidation is bad. Even when we get amazing AR glasses that let us play a more realistic Pokémon Go, I don’t need that Pokémon to carry over to my crappy metaverse mansion. Even when we get brain computer interfaces, I don’t want to live in the embodied internet, because tactile sensation is a huge part of how we experience the world, and clicking a mouse feels better than making a finger gun in empty air. Tech companies are going to keep pushing the metaverse, and eventually we’ll all have to deal with it. But in the meantime, don’t feel like you’ve lost your mind when every pitch for it feels absolutely meaningless. The metaverse is most definitely bullshit.”

🙂 Well, that settles it, IMHO. Let`s see…nevertheless, the metaverse may be rather an idea for a museum or at least is major hogwash.

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