Metaverse, Mars, meditation retreats: billionaires want to escape the world they ruined | life and style
OOn Thursday, Facebook announced a groundbreaking and innovative new distraction from their PR disaster. As journalists continue to dig into thousands of leaked documents that show the company is fully aware that it is degrading democratic societies, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook is changing its name to Meta, has a new logo that looks like a hunched over Na’vi, and will go from spreading vaccine misinformation to creating a super lame version of Second Life.
Zuckerberg promised that in the future, we would all work, play, and “host surprise birthday parties” as avatars in Facebook’s virtual reality “Metaverse.” His examples of how it might work had all the cultural awareness of a Kendall Roy social media strategy.
In one clip, Zuckerberg arrives on a spaceship – “This place is amazing! It was made by a designer I met in Los Angeles! — before opening his contact list, scrolling through 2007’s hottest rapper, T-Pain, and arriving at a friend’s house who composes “3D street art” from the streets of New York to the platform- shape of the spaceship. “It’s breathtaking! I love the movement,” Zuckerberg’s virtual pals say, as they look at something that looks like clip art someone could have used on a letterhead for a cabinet of small-town lawyers. Then, just as he disappears from view, Zuckerberg buys him, seemingly as an NFT, so he can stay in virtual space forever.
Zuckerberg’s virtual game world is a way to escape the destruction he inflicted on the real thing. Facebook has played a major role in fomenting ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, provoking lynching mobs in India and Sri Lanka, amplifying white nationalism in the United States, and providing the anti-vaccine movement with a massive megaphone during a global pandemic. Rather than tackle this ruin, Zuckerberg wants us all to turn our attention to a fantasy land where he’s friends with rappers and where you can watch Instagram stories on a pirate ship.
He joins a group of 21st century robber barons who, after successfully colonizing huge swathes of Earth 1.0, seek to escape to other realms of reality.
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are obsessed with physically leaving the planet, investing their wealth in a fiercely contested space race despite the fact that no one is going to Mars anytime soon. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, has attempted a more metaphysical escape, spending weeks at a time in glamorous meditation retreats, practicing total silence, in an attempt to escape the noisy, unregulated world of hate speech that ‘he created.
Zuckerberg has now gone further, creating a reality so virtual that Facebook has yet to destroy it. But his vision of avatar poker games is also fantasy. From Habbo Hotel to SecondLife, Sansar, and High Fidelity, there are hundreds of similar VR social offerings you probably haven’t heard of because all that’s really happening is people hanging out in condos. poorly rendered saying “is your thing working, mine’s lagging”. These kinds of social worlds remain a niche concern (partly because few social interactions are enhanced by a soup of helmet nausea ).
An example: the world has been living with working from home for 18 months, and during that time there have been thousands of high-tech offers trying to recreate the office, but every big company still opts for the dreary Zoom call. . That’s because VR is inherently dumb, and most work isn’t.
These billionaire stampedes are both real – in that they will have billions of dollars invested – and pure fantasy. It’s impressive that SpaceX and Blue Origin have reached low Earth orbit, but we’re not going move polluting industries to space or colonize Mars. These projects have more to do with providing psychological balm to their owners (and selling shares in Tesla and Amazon) than with the future of technology.
What Facebook posted on Thursday was a Pixar-like dream sequence of how Zuckerberg wants people to see him. He’s harnessed one of the greatest technological operations ever devised to create an entirely new universe in which he’s no villain. For the rest of us living on Earth, nothing has changed.