Metaverse: A world within world

Human life is grappling with numerous problems. Among a host of ills, the never-ending pandemic has been a constant source of headaches, destabilising both the physical and mental health of people. Amid ravaging Covidvariants, the need for metaverse technology has potentially increased. It is a platform where you can attend business meetings, hold seminars, travel to faraway imaginary lands, and be together with your loved ones while staying in the comfort of your room by just putting on your VR headsets. The virtual world of the metaverse can transport you anywhere you imagine. What is the Metaverse? Is it a video game? Is it an alien world or just hype? Everyone is curious about the metaverse. It is said to be the latest iteration of the internet. It is an exploration of a virtual universe beyond the realm of the real universe, explored with the help of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) headsets. A virtual world that mirrors the real world. Metaverse is not a new term.

It was first coined in the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, where humans in the form of avatars socialise in a three-dimensional virtual world. Ernest Cline’s dystopian science fiction “Ready Player One” also depicts a VR landscape, The Oasis. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he was going to rebrand Facebook as Meta in order to build a VR social platform. The Metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds; some also call it the Web3. It is accessible to everyone through VR technology. The users get their own avatars and traverse the metaverse with the use of eye movements and voice commands. The avatars interact with each other and exhibit deeds that are impossible to perform in the real world. a virtual environment in which users can socialise and enjoy a wide range of experiences using cryptocurrency and NFTs Not only tech giants like Meta and Microsoft, but many companies such as Roblox, Unity, and Nvidia are also creating virtual worlds that closely mimic the natural universe.

A virtual world where you can invest in land, a house, and a shopping centre through cryptocurrency. People can own assets and monetize them too. They can purchase and sell digital items such as clothes, cars, houses, land, shops, and anything they want in real life. They navigate the highly digitalized world and interact with other people in the guise of avatars. Millions of people are already using it. According to Statista, “The potential metaverse market opportunity ranges from 3.75 trillion U.S. dollars to 12.46 trillion U.S. dollars, depending on the share of the digital economy that shifts to the metaverse and market expansion.” People are trying to make their presence felt in the metaverse by various means; music concerts are being held there, media companies are advertising in digital malls, and sports brands are investing profusely. Though the metaverse is still in progress, mega businesses and flourishing companies are already investing heavily in it. The Metaverse is overhyped and becoming a new obsession. It is said that the United States will be one of the greatest markets in the metaverse in the future.

The metaverse is considered a mirror of our natural world. It provides multiuser virtual environments and allows you to traverse the virtual world through one identity. No single person or company or organisation owns the metaverse. It has multiple stakeholders who observe its algorithms. Everyone can be an owner of metaverse platforms. People can socialize, play games, attend business meetings, sports events, fashion exhibitions, hold seminars and much more. These platforms offer user-friendly tools for online education. Metaverse is not a novel concept. This hypothetical iteration of the internet has its origins in the recent past. After the publication of “Snow Crash,” the term became a buzzword. People, old and young, children and adults, are taking a keen interest in exploring the metaverse. Everyone’s reason of interest is different; some users have purely monetary considerations; some want to facilitate education; flourish business and many users navigate the virtual world solely for entertainment purposes. We cannot, however, turn a blind eye to the fact that the metaverse may induce some potential threats to users. Like other internet technologies, it also has darkness within. A “venturous escapade” from reality has highly addictive potential. Some privacy-related problems can be raised, user safety can be at risk, and some social and ethical issues may arise in children.

In some cases, it can aggravate depression, and there is an increased risk of health problems like obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Spending too much time in the metaverse may result in demeaning human existence. Numerous ethical issues may arise; people are already tying nuptials in a virtual world, and many dating apps and new methodologies of matchmaking may surface as cyberspace progresses. Several huge brands are showing immense eagerness and committing resources to the metaverse in order to discover novel ways to gain profit. Mega investors like Microsoft and Meta (formerly Facebook) are very enthusiastic about the cyber world. Though rebranding Facebook might seem like a refreshing recourse (in our worrisome life), the interaction is through avatars, and representing ourselves might put us in harm’s way. Some opine that an encounter in the virtual world is less important than one in the real world, while many count it as significant as it would be in the tangible world. With the passage of time, regular users of virtual environments are reporting unpleasant experiences of abuse and sexual harassment. It is stated that the feeling of vulnerability comes with the attachment of a person to their avatar; a stronger attachment may incur imperishable damage to one’s personality. Technologies are capable of transforming human life. It all depends on ourselves. What do we intend to take, the best or the worst?