Detractors & Skeptics
With all the hype connected to the Metaverse of late, it’s no wonder there are detractors on how it will serve the world and the people in it, though far less in number than the advocates. Always a skeptic until proven otherwise, I have also searched for answers as to what its real purpose is and will be.
Earlier in the week, a Forbes piece written by John Brandon, a veteran tech journalist with over two decades of experience, caught my eye. What Will Happen When We Realize Facebook’s Metaverse Is Just A Huge Ad is one of those articles that, at first glance may seem just like any other story on the Metaverse, yet it isn’t — far from it, in fact. What Brandon’s skeptical piece does is present a solidly thought-out viewpoint on the Metaverse that would make the philosopher David Hume smirk with pride.
“Every time I turn around, there’s a new report about how the metaverse will take over the world, save Facebook, and provide a catalyst for extreme social connection,” Brandon begins, setting the tone for his thesis.
It’s refreshing to read, even though it doesn’t align with the current trend of thinking, especially regarding Facebook’s corporate rebranding to Meta last October and the much-anticipated video, The Metaverse and How We’ll Build It Together — Connect 2021, that came with it. Deemed the company to push the Metaverse forward, Mark Zuckerberg and his cohorts may or may not be its saviours, but one thing for certain is they’ll make money doing it no matter what.
Zuckerberg’s Meta video presentation runs at one hour and seventeen minutes and is — I have to say — impressive. Yet, throughout it all, we only hear about the positives it will bring to social interactions in Web3.
“Very few people write about how the metaverse might not be so great. People writing about it tend to mention the positives and nothing more,” comments Brandon in his article, before going on to say:
“It’s all smoke, mirrors, and prognostication. My take? The smoke will eventually clear.”
Ads, Shopping, Revenue
Brandon emphasizes that the Metaverse “is really not about gaming, or social connection, or even virtual adventures”. What it is about, he writes lamentably, is about the ads. And shopping. And more revenue.
But is anyone naïve enough not to know that’s part of the plan anyway? Brandon’s cognizance of the Metaverse’s real aim seems like he’s pissing on the parade, one that everybody and their mother interested in tech is in on.
And just because advertising will be the base for everything else, that shouldn’t mean it’s going to be that bad.
“It’s inevitable that social media will become virtual socializing by combining the best parts of online gaming, VR and AR, social media, graphics technology, and even apps like Discord […],” says Brandon. He then makes it clear there is no reason why building a virtual realm where everything we love about technology can coexist in real-time, though warns social media companies like Facebook’s and others’ track record of creating pure play technology is poor.
“There is always a catch. It’s often related to capturing your personal information and selling it to the highest bidder,” the Forbes columnist and author of The 7-Minute Productivity Solution: How to Manage Your Schedule, Overcome Distraction, and Achieve the Results You Want adds.
Brandon goes further with his doom and gloom, seeing little to no light at the end of the virtual tunnel, at least with respect to corporations’ plans when it comes to getting our attention:
“The metaverse is a great way to push the attention economy forward, and there will be a massive bastion of sponsored content. That will ruin the experience, even if it is successful in luring us all into its eternal abyss. That virtual Starbucks is a great place to meet, but it won’t be hard to understand how Meta will rake in the cash. Once they have our eyeballs, they also have our pocketbooks. It’s just a matter of time.”
Brandon wants to see a different company ascend, one that has more than just capturing our attention and showing us ads as its objective.
“It would be wonderful if there was a completely different business model, perhaps one that involves more of an actual product and actual innovation,” says Brandon. “Sure, we could wander into shopping malls with our cryptocurrency; this company that does not actually exist yet could make commerce part of the equation. I’m just worried commerce will be the only equation.”
Here at the Metaverse Insider, we believe the Metaverse will be a thing for good. Technology, when developed by responsible people, can be a wonderful thing — let’s hope Zuckerberg and all the other captains of the tech industry feel the same.
At the very least, they could learn a thing or two by reading Brandon’s insightful piece.