Beware of the physical and mental toll that metaverse takes.
The dot-com boom in the 90s brought about a new “global community” concept. Now we have yet another breakthrough called the metaverse.
Microsoft and Facebook have presented a preview of what the metaverse entails. With the massive change brought about by the internet, the metaverse would undoubtedly bring more innovation. Unfortunately, it also comes with a set of challenges.
What Is the Metaverse?
Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash.” But what really is the metaverse?
The concept gained popularity after Facebook was renamed Meta in 2021. Essentially, the metaverse, a.k.a meta-universe, is a virtual world where you’re replaced by digital avatars. You can hang out with friends, have a chat, and play games without having to get out of your house or office.
The Microsoft version of the metaverse focuses on enhancing Virtual meetings. The universe will not only focus on socializing and gaming, but it’ll also seek to boost the digital economy where you can create, sell, or buy products and services.
It’s worth noting that these ideas are only a fraction of the metaverse. We’ve also heard of Fortnite’s planned virtual concerts via metaverse. So, the common names such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google don’t form the metaverse but are building blocks of a universe that uses augmented, mixed, and virtual reality.
Metaverse Could Affect Your Mental Wellbeing
One major problem associated with the metaverse is addiction. So far, we’re struggling with social media and internet addiction, especially among the youth who are consuming information online at an alarmingly high pace. The more you scroll down that news feed, the more the urge to explore further.
Note that every piece of content you encounter is dopamine that gets into your brain hence the long hours on social media.
Think about the effect that a virtual world, with way more engaging capacity than social media, would have. It would be a boundless distinct reality where you could create an environment better than the real world.
A recent study proved that freemium games and social media platforms use psychological research to extend users’ screen time.
Addiction to digital technology has led to depression and anxiety. Adding metaverse means that users will escape from reality exacerbating the problems that would require real-life interactions and association.
Social media companies penetrate your privacy when you’re engaged on their platforms for long. The metaverse will get hyperrealistic, and users will likely get glued for hours. Soon, users will find virtual mental stimulation better than in the real world.
Reports show that US netizens spend at least 23 hours a week online. Now that communication, play, and work is becoming virtual, the number of users and the time they spend online will skyrocket. It means that most people will have reduced outdoor exposure leading to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and low vitamin D levels. Users spending hours in the metaverse will also likely suffer from fatigue. The headsets also induce physical strain when used extensively, leading to exhaustion and headaches.
While privacy may not directly affect your health, it can cause tremendous harm. Social media companies harvest personal data to increase your usage time, sell to third parties, and customize feeds. Metaverse will provide even more access to such exploitation.
The Bright Side of Metaverse
The metaverse is a significant communication development. We’ve long anticipated the one-stop virtual world concept that sounds like science fiction. While technology overuse may be of concern, tech advancements will finally make metaverse an equally overwhelming reality.
It would be revolutionary to interact with people in a virtual simulation. This is made possible by the 5G network increasingly making in-roads globally. Soon, you could virtually attend festivals, concerts, and other social events anywhere.
The metaverse would also greatly help medical treatment and research. Today, VR comes in handy when addressing various phobias and PTSD. Through metaverse, health practitioners have an effective platform to address mental disorder issues and provide realistic virtual therapy.
Metaverse’s commercial benefits are limitless. Imagine taking a virtual tour to the International Space Station or exploring other plants from the comfort of your couch.
Metaverse would redefine company dynamics and virtual interviews. Fashion, food, electronics, and even the real estate industry have shown interest in the digital world. Virtual access will significantly help consumers decide on a product by trying it before purchasing.
Will The Metaverse Affect Me?
The universe is still in its early stages, and little research exists about its adverse impacts. However, concerns on common issues such as depression and addiction are clear. The metaverse’s impact will mainly depend on the companies crating it and the way you use it. Nonetheless, companies can create regulations to minimize its harmful effects. Whatever the case, the metaverse is a new concept that will change the world’s perception.