This picture above is of me. Rather, my Bitmoji. I hope you’ll recognize me in case we meet up in the “metaverse.” Have you been reading about the metaverse? It is a term first coined by Neal Stephenson in his novel “Snow Crash,” to describe an all-encompassing virtual universe that would exist alongside the physical one. You might have heard about it when Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta Platforms to signal its focus on monetizing the metaverse (it’s also possible they made the name change to deflect all the shit that comes with being Facebook 🤷♂️). It is said that in the metaverse, Shaun (my avatar pictured above) could be like a character in a video game. Through his eyes though, I will experience a digital reality as active and engaging as my physical one. On second thought, we likely won’t meet in this virtual world…I ain’t buying it.
Hints of the emerging metaverse are everywhere. VC billions pour into metaverse startups. Not to be outdone, megacompanies, like Microsoft and Sony, are making multibillion dollar acquisitions to better position themselves for the opportunity ahead. Today, virtual concerts attract record audiences; high-end designers sell virtual fashion; and in the most immersive games like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox, players can socialize, shop, and attend events in a virtual world. How will we participate in all this?? As cartoon characters. Interacting with other cartoon characters. In our basement. Or kitchen. Or living room. Alone. Metaverse, Shmetaverse. I’m out.
I choose Real world, Real People and Real Connections. Hear me out. I love tech. Starting in the late 80s, I spent a career in computing and networking. I was in-line for the first iPhone, and I was an early adopter of social media. I went deep in social, personally, and professionally. Ultimately, I started feeling consumed and crappy. I quit. My sense is the metaverse is the Frankenstein of social media, gaming, and virtual reality. While our phones challenge us to be present today, is it possible this environment could seduce us completely out of the real world? Yikes!
At MenLiving, we are taking a different route. We are endeavoring to build a macrocosm that fosters real world connection. We absolutely use technology to enable human relationships, but the end game is, real people, face to face, eye to eye.
Is the option really to live in a world of make-believe creepy caricature puppets like the one you see above (maybe mine isn’t completely creepy, but kind of cute?)? Or you can go with connecting deeply, living fully in the real world.