Shall we all go and live in the Metaverse?


Real World or Metaverse

By Natasha Hatherall-Shawe


I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m quite worried about the Metaverse .

I read something this week that predicted in just two years’ time we’ll all be spending 80% of our lives in the metaverse working, socializing, playing, shopping…you name it. This, ultimately, made me ask myself, is the world now so bad we all want to jump ship and live in a whole other place?


First things first, I can’t say with total certainty I even really understand what the Metaverse is. But I also know I cannot be the only one. There is a lot of talk for sure, but much less tangible action. I kind of see it as a bit Matrix-like, where we plug ourselves in and we inhabit this whole other world, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s the future of the internet. It’s kind of like a video game. It’s a super immersive experience like no other. Even the tech giants aren’t completely sure, as it’s all being built as we speak and it’s too new to say exactly what it may be and what it is not.


On that basis, what chance do we non-tech mere mortals have at understanding it?


22 years ago when the Matrix film first came out and blew us all away - could we really have imagined this would be our living breathing reality in the not-so-distant future?


Given we’re not entirely sure what the Metaverse is and where it’s going, if we look at what we’re seeing today, it’s basically a way we’re interacting with technology. It includes virtual reality with worlds that carry on even when you’re not there “playing”. There’s also some augmented reality thrown in combining both the digital and physical worlds. Then we’re seeing lots of companies and brands staking their own virtual space and launching digital economies where they create and sell branded items and spaces. This is all connected to the NFT creations we’re hearing lots about coming in. I’m not even going to try and get into explaining what I think NFTs are today, fear not! That’s something for another day – the dazed and confused musings on NFTs!


What we do know for sure is, whilst many of us don't really know what the Metaverse is or is not right now, all the big tech companies are investing time in creating new and better worlds that closely mimic our own physical life and world. So, the Metaverse in some guise is here to stay – or well scarily could be THE FUTURE.


The other week my friend Briar Prestidge who is always a bit of a trendsetter, and who I admire greatly, announced she was off to spend 48 hours in the Metaverse. I read her article on Arabian Business with great interest and it sounded fascinating – but did I know what it meant and where she was off to? Er no. Then I saw her check into a hotel room armed with kit and I wondered was she just going for a really good 48-hour lie-down. I mean I could do with that too after the recent months I’ve had. I was fascinated and baffled in equal measure and even now I still don’t understand what happened in those 48 hours or why you’d even want to head to the Metaverse for 48 hours. It brings me back to my point – is the world we live in now so bad we have to try and find every way to escape it that we can?


Honestly, yes we’d all agree the past couple of years in the Covid era have been pretty grim and our lives have been changed in many ways, as the majority of us experience something on this scale for the first time in our lifetime. The planet is screaming for our attention with global warming and then half of our species are at war and trying to wipe each other out of existence. When you throw it all together like that and the instability and unpredictability is so bad, maybe that does explain the appeal of “the other”.


If this is the future for humankind and an existence in a virtual world – where does this leave us all as humans? If we spend 80% of our time one day soon in the Metaverse, what happens to true human connection? It’s arguably suffering a great deal as it stands as one of the greatest causes of friction in most homes is the amount of screen time, be it kids, or the parents. This won’t do much for our relationships will it? What about human touch – will we forget the magic of a kiss or the comfort of a hug, let alone anything else more sensual? Does this all become a contributing factor to our increasing infertility crisis? Is this another version of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale' we could never have imagined?


I mean there is so much to say here and the more I mull it over, the more frightening this reality actually becomes. There are so many implications. And well just a whole lot more questions. What about our physical health? The obesity crisis is already a thing, so will this just get worse and will our health decline even further? Will we even have time to eat if we’re in the Metaverse most of the time though? Surely a great benefit of Metaverse food is that it’s calorie-free? What goes on in the Metaverse stays in the Metaverse – right?!


I’m not sure I’m ready for this. Maybe it’s my 40 something age. If I was 18 would I be feeling different? I’m not sure. The world may not be a particularly kind or stable place at the moment, but I appreciate every moment of what it is to be human and all that comes with that. I don’t think I want to give it all up to be plugged in to head off to buy a virtual handbag, for my virtual date with my virtual Meta husband. Surely virtual burrata just can’t cut it? A bank account filled with millions of virtual currency does sound lovely though.


Today whilst I admire and remain fascinated by those pioneers choosing to explore and go where no-one has gone before, I think I’ll just stay a little baffled by it all with my feet firmly on the physical ground for as long as I can. Who’s staying with me?