Facebook becomes Meta: now what?

The logo of Meta, parent company of Facebook.

On Oct. 28, 2021, Facebook released news that would send shockwaves across the technology and finance world. The company wrote in a press release, “CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta, which brings together our apps and technologies under one new company brand. Meta’s focus will be to bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.” With talk of non-fungible tokens and the metaverse all over the news and social media, it’s critical to understand the ramifications of Facebook’s name change and what it means for the future of our technology, social lives and economy. 

Facebook’s press release had this to say about the metaverse: “The metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together—and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world.” In short, the metaverse is an alternate social media that allows you to spend time with people without being actually near them. The metaverse combines two technologies, specifically virtual reality and augmented reality, in order to allow users to exist in a different reality, online. 

As our lives become more and more online, the possibility of the metaverse being an important part of our lives continues to increase. Imagine sitting in your room, putting on a virtual reality headset, and entering the metaverse. There, you can go to class, hang out with friends and change your outfit, all without leaving the comfort of your room. Although this may seem far-fetched, the technology to allow us to do that is rapidly improving and this reality may come before you think.

So, what does this mean for us? In the short term, companies are using the metaverse for marketing purposes, with no real-world applications. Companies like Adidas, Nike and Budweiser have all shown clear intentions to sell NFTs in the metaverse. And while I tend to think this is just a pathetic money-grabbing attempt by huge companies to capitalize on the popularity of the metaverse, people are buying the products, meaning there is demand for metaverse products.

Despite the fact that the technology is rapidly improving, the possibility of the metaverse being fully implemented in our daily lives is still far in the future. Whether it’s going to be several decades or just one or two, I am unsure. There is one thing that is certain, however—before we can enter the metaverse as a society, we must ensure that everyone across the world, regardless of socioeconomic status, has internet access. It’s so pathetic that these huge, international companies want to push the metaverse with so many in the world going without regular access to speedy, effective and reliable internet access. Just as basic necessities, such as water, food and healthcare are critical to functioning in the modern age, reliable access to the internet is and should be considered a human right to all humans.  

One thing is clear though: Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram control our social media lives, and their entrance into the metaverse is just another attempt to control every aspect of our lives. We have to be sure that our data is protected in the metaverse, and these companies don’t try and sell our data as they do on the internet. While the technology is still far from being involved in our day-to-day lives, the reality of the metaverse continues to be more and more mainstream, and with Facebook’s name change, this reality will continue to increase.

 

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