The fact that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is so keen on life – and above all profit-making – in a virtual metaverse that he immediately renamed his entire company Meta and, when presenting this change of identity in October, animated the move as an avatar to his upcoming illusory world, could already be interpreted as a deep longing for a loss of reality.
Is this illusory Utopia attainable?
It might be nice too, in an illusory world created by a tech giant, in which you don’t get infected with the coronavirus, the rainforests don’t burn, nobody is hungry or in pain. Instead, everything is nicely decorated, super-inclusive, gender-equitable, and safe from MeToo attacks because the avatars keep a minimum distance from each other.
But you have to be so escapist that, given the brutal physical force with which Putin’s war in Ukraine is shaping the current order of things, the next stage of the promotion rocket for the metaverse is unmoved at the tech conference in California.
As a surprise guest, Zuckerberg unsurprisingly talks via video about his next big thing: he wants to integrate non-fungible tokens (NFT), ownership certificates stored in blockchains, into already existing elements of his metaverse – first of all, the photo platform Instagram. There you should soon be able to buy and generate NFTs.
It is obvious that the tokens could be ideal tools for trading goods from image files to clothes for the avatar in virtual worlds. As a means of self-expression in social networks, she already uses Twitter in America, where you can upload NFT as profile pictures. However, they do not actually fit into a centrally organized Zuckerberg metaverse because blockchains are organized in a decentralized manner. Either way, is now really the right time to push the meta business?
Only a few hours elapsed between Zuckerberg’s video appearance in front of the tech community and that of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the American Congress. The latter, and the millions of real-time social media broadcasts from the war, can be seen as evidence that we have long since lived in a metaverse where the virtual and physical interact powerfully. And NFT are among the donations that reached Ukraine.
But the war also awakens people from the digital daydream, in which life, freedom and democracy, values, and community can be conveniently accessed by swiping on displays.
Each meta-level is only as good as the structure that underlies it. In Ukraine, freedom is being fought for in a horribly real way. We can talk about meta again later. But for now, it would be nice if Mark Zuckerberg put on his virtual reality goggles, booted up the computer – and played quietly for a while.