Metaverse is one of those things that suddenly get popular just for some specific events. Let’s face it: virtual reality is not something really new and I used to buy a VR device way before to even read the ‘Metaverse’ word on a newspaper. I mostly use it for watching movies whenever I want that immersive experience that I could otherwise enjoy by going to the cinema (but when I go to the cinema I watch new movies, not certainly my collection or even just simple YouTube videos, so they are still different experiences). The only difference with the virtual reality we already know is that it has been mostly popular among gamers and people enjoying to watch videos in a cinema-like virtual environment. While it was easy to spot a person using a smartphone on the road, it was surely not that common to have a neighbor or schoolmate owning a VR device. VR has still interested a niche, more or less like it happened with drones. In addition, nobody has ever imagined to literally live inside a virtual reality and to see it as a ‘new world’ where to pass entire days like in the Ready Player One movie. It is an idea that would be mostly good for a science fiction movie, not certainly for the real world. Despite this, there is somebody who really believes Metaverse is going to replace our reality, just because the CEO of a company suddenly decided to change name to the umbrella of social networking services he is providing to their customers (without considering the fact that changing name may be also a way to fade the attention on certain controversial cases like the ‘Papers‘) . In this article I will share some opinions about why the Metaverse as intended by the common opinion is a failure and maybe more a speculative bubble than real substance and what are the concrete limitations that make definitely difficult to imagine it like if it was a ‘new reality’.
VR Devices: Are They Always Comfortable?
The first reason is all about comfort. It is surely true that most of the advanced VR devices may have improved a lot in terms of comfort when compared with older or cheaper devices, still we cannot deny two important aspects:
- VR devices are usually heavy
- VR devices are common to heat up, especially with prolonged use: this is a limitation that cannot be denied. Even an advanced high-end smartphone with the display always turned on and maybe a videogame running for long time tends to heat up, so there is not any miracle that can prevent this to happen to a VR device.
Are you read to live most of your time in the Metaverse? If yes, get ready to be used to keeping a heavy and hot device on your nose for the most of your time: if this is not a problem for you (even during those lovely afternoons in the mid of July), congratulations, as you are definitely ready to live an entire existence in the Metaverse!
Virtual Reality Is Not Real Enough
Let’s think about this: when you wear a VR device are you seriously experiencing the same reality you would feel without it? Obviously you can recognize clear differences between the real world and the virtual one: when using a VR your eyes are surrounded by a display: the Metaverse is of course brighter than the real world. Everyone can clearly feel the difference between the two things: are you sure you can live in a so vivid environment for most of your time? If yes, that’s good for you, as you may be able to really put your life at the center of the Metaverse: still, you can’t give up completely the ‘real reality’ and this is something that will be better explained in the next section. Try to think at how do you feel after having watched a movie at the cinema: your eyes are used to a big and bright screen and then, when the movie ends and the lights are turned on, you get up and exit the room. First of all you feel a general sensation of alienation, being the cinema experience very immersive. The ’real world’ feels a little dark for some minutes when your eyes are so used to that bright screen in front of which you have seen an entire movie. Now try to imagine what would be the feeling after having spent most of your day in the virtual reality, as the Metaverse as explained recently is something that would make us literally glued to our devices. Honestly, it’s something I would never ever want to try, as that would mean living in a persistent alienation that would make feel the Metaverse even more real than the true reality and - as written before - this last one cannot be replaced, that’s why the Metaverse as intended (where people even spend lots of money in order to buy virtual houses or yachts) is going to fail after having speculated enough on those who are really serious at spending hundreds of thousand dollars for owning virtual properties.
Metaverse Fails Where It Wants To Replace Real World
As written before, Metaverse can’t replace the true reality. We cannot go to the toilet in the Metaverse (maybe we can wear VR in order to see our WC as a throne as it is surely an important improvement to the satisfaction of our physiological needs), but certainly we can’t buy and use toilet paper in the Metaverse). We cannot sleep in the Metaverse laying on a bed we never make because ‘our virtual home has already a bed that is always clean’, nor we can leave our houses dirty or forget what a real shower is (please, Metaverse or not, get a real shower). The same, we have real bills to pay (it would be nice to see a VR device working with virtual electric energy, but I am still not aware of something like this), real food to eat (again, you cannot eat in the Metaverse, you have a real stomach, real taste buds and real food to cook and no virtual reality can replace this) and real water to drink (if we will be able to survive by drinking virtual water in the Metaverse, let me know in the comments). And - let’s not forget it - we have a real VR device. If we need to replace it or to charge its batteries (hey, our existence in the Metaverse is so real that it is totally dependent on the durability of a battery, even the Borgs in Star Trek are the apotheosis of freedom compared to this) we are surely not going to do it in the virtual world. In the Metaverse we can maybe see our friends as avatars (it’s so nice to talk to and maybe kiss an avatar, isn’t it?) and dance together in virtual clubs (pay attention your house is as big as ‘Meta-Disco’, otherwise the moment in which you get on the cube you may hit your head against the kitchen hood). Surely we are not going to dine in the Metaverse or to have breakfast at a virtual cafe, unless you think it is cool to sit in front of a real coffee machine (yes, you need to go back to the real life for a minute at least to make coffee) and then wear back the VR in order to be suddenly in a Hollywood cafe drinking with your avat… ehm, friends. Don’t forget to was the coffee cup after all of this (in the real world and with real water)!
Are the reasons listed below more than enough in order to think at Metaverse at a total failure in practical terms, at something on which is good to speculate in the short terms, just because the world is still full of ‘geniuses’ ready to buy a virtual property for the same amount of money they could use to buy a real house? In my opinion, yes. Otherwise, let’s wait for this ‘new reality’ and all the funny implications it will have when people will suddenly discover how nice is to use virtual toilet paper and eat virtual pizza. I think I’ll continue to use VR just for watching some videos, playing some immersive games for no more than 20-30 minutes, watching a full movie like when at the cinema when I am really hungry of virtual experiences. The most logic way of using VR I can imagine. Not definitely going to buy house in the Metaverse and see it as the new world where to spend the rest of my life.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Alessio Ganci