With the news of Mark Zuckerberg's new pet project to create a fully-digital world, the metaverse is a topic that’s getting more buzz than ever. Naturally, your mom or dad might have a few questions about it when it comes time for Thanksgiving. Heck, you might have a few of the same questions yourself.
Well, have no fear: We’ve created a handy guide with all the essential talking points you need to get through a conversation with your friends and family about the metaverse.
Between Bites of Stuffing
The metaverse is a term used to describe a complete virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) world where people use digital avatars to interact with each other.
In More Depth
The term "metaverse" was first coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel "Snow Crash." However, the concept remained niche until it was broadly popularized in Ernest Cline's 2011 "Ready Player One." Both stories present the metaverse as a dystopian, escapist tool wielded by the powerful in order to control the masses by putting them into a perpetual state of complacency and distraction — but, confusingly, both authors seemed to think that living in the metaverse would be kinda cool.
The concept is in the news once again because back in October, Facebook rebranded itself as "Meta" and announced sweeping plans to develop a fully-realized metaverse for totally non-evil and non-dystopian reasons. In his announcement, CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the metaverse as a massive online platform that’ll allow users to create digital avatars, meet and interact with friends, and create AR overlays over existing physical spaces. Oh, and for some reason, nobody has legs.
Many experts are rightfully apprehensive about the project, including Facebook’s own VR expert John Carmack, who said recently that he’s been "actively arguing against every single metaverse effort" that the company has put forth for years. While there are a few reasons for the backlash, the most substantive stem from privacy concerns as well as perceptions that the metaverse needs to be a larger, community-led effort rather than centralized by an evil mega-corp (hey, kind of like in "Ready Player One"!)
If You Wanna Get Disowned
Explain to your parents that you want Thanksgiving and Christmas to be held via metaverse from now on, so you can roleplay as your digital fursona avatar — or tell 'em that you’d rather be able to mute dad when he goes on one of his libertarian rants again.
More on the metaverse: