The new unreality has arrived. The corporation formerly known as Facebook has declared it so. Everyone should prepare their best digital suit and virtually cruise down to electric avenue (now known as the Metaverse) where our newly minted digital identities may be further monetized.
I may have mentioned in previous columns that scenario development often seems to discount the one common denominator to all scenarios: the traits of human beings. So, what will be the possible effects of the charge for the digital revolving door between the online and offline world? So far people’s virtual existences have seldom mirrored their actual existences – for good reason – which leads one to the conclusion that the metaverse will be populated by our digital alter-egos. Inhabiting one or more digital identities is an aspect of the virtual world that may seem appealing but what of the collateral effects when so many of us could lead split personality lives in the various metaverses available to us? A naughty personalities, a nice identity, a Machiavellian character et cetera all neatly compartmentalized and kept apart from each other and the offline world (or as it was previously known “reality”) with all of its real world challenges.
Already, the metaverse has begun to reflect the offline world. Real law firms are setting up shop in Sandbox, health practitioners are providing virtual consultations and one can enjoy a binary beer at a virtual drinking establishment of your choice. The usual suspects are replicating the offline world in the online space but the online space can still be a hectic, rough and tumble, anarchic space. The rules of the new online world may be sold to us as being democratically determined but closer scrutiny is not always kind to that assertion. The metaverse is dominated by commercial interests and those interests pander to the human traits that are easiest to exploit and encourage in an environment where exploitation, especially at an ethereal level, has questionable limits for the moment.
Will the best of us enter back through the revolving door? Will we witness the worst of us before it has real word effects and find a way to keep these aspects in a digital box? Or has the revolving door already begun to spin the best and the worst back to our offline world? It may be time for some deep dive scenario development!