Life in an Alternate Universe
Is there such a thing as another universe?
“What exactly is the Metaverse?” you may be asking yourself. The term definitely sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? Could there be another universe? Why are people claiming the Metaverse is already in our grasp?
If you’re worried that tomorrow you’re going to wake up in the Matrix, don’t. We aren’t there yet, so there’s nothing to worry about. But it’s worth getting familiar with this new technology being developed right now so you can set your expectations for the future.
The Metaverse is similar to a virtual world you might see in video games, but the difference is that it actually blends into our real world. That means you have access to the technology and the style that you are familiar with from video games, but you can also access a world similar to ours.
Your experience in the Metaverse can be something you have already seen before, or something entirely new, it is completely up to you and the people you are sharing this experience with. You can run into your real-life coworkers and friends or meet total strangers in this virtual world where you can perform real-time actions while showing different gestures and sharing real emotions and thoughts.
The journey to a virtual world started with baby steps
The concept of a virtual world started to organically develop by itself in a way some time ago with people moving certain activities they used to do in real life into the virtual domain. Playing online games with friends has taken the place of playing board games or sports, exploring certain locations through videos or 3D recreations of them has replaced traveling, and studying using online articles, courses, and books has replaced visiting libraries or enrolling in university courses, and so on.
This process has been accelerated by the pandemic which affected all of our lives negatively mostly but made the connection between these two worlds, what we call the real world and the virtual world, even stronger. A lot of people started to work from home, having meetings moved to platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet, with their offices becoming virtual ones, and even schools and universities started occupying a virtual space by moving their activity online due to the pandemic-caused restrictions.
The new technology of the Metaverse comes to make these already existing trends even more realistic and provide an enhanced experience. Instead of seeing yourself and your co-workers through a basic laptop camera during a meeting, in the Metaverse, you can actually see a very well customized full-body avatar of them while seeing their live gestures and emotions, in an environment of your choice. Yes, you can have that boring Monday morning meeting on a beach in the Bahamas if you so wish. The point of this entirely new world is to allow you to fully (with all your senses) enjoy any activity and experience that you could only access through a screen before.
What is there to do in the Metaverse?
You can do anything your heart desires in this new cyberspace. You can use it to socialize, like meeting new people or your real-world friends; to play virtual games (in a more interactive way than ever before), or for work purposes such as meetings, training sessions, working on projects more naturally with your coworkers than through Zoom meetings, or even enjoy a more interactive coffee break with them.
The Metaverse is promoted especially for business purposes in order to make work from home more appealing by conserving as much as possible the human contact that exists in an actual office, without the associated health dangers. Because we are social beings, no amount of perceived danger can erase our need to feel close to each other and interact. When that isn’t realistically possible or advisable, the Metaverse could prove to be the answer to our challenges.
The Metaverse’s new financial system
In the Metaverse, just as in the real world, you personalize your image: you create yourself as an avatar and you can possess different assets by buying them, such as clothes, accessories, and even real estate that already exists in the real world.
Yes, you read that correctly, you can buy actual properties and locations, such as the town hall in your hometown, the school you used to attend as a child or your favorite hang-out place. You also have the option to go big or go home, and buy yourself some luxury spot in one of the best destinations in the world.
How does crypto fit into the Metaverse?
Are you an investor in the real world? Or do you want to start your investing journey in the Metaverse? You can actually do so, even if you wanna invest in art, real estate, or games. No matter what your preferred field is, firstly, you need to create a crypto wallet.
In order to buy all of the things mentioned above, there needs to of course be some sort of currency circulating in the Metaverse.
This is where cryptocurrency steps in. Due to its rising popularity and the fact that it’s decentralized, cryptocurrency is going to be used for transactions in the Metaverse, which is not surprising in the least. Crypto is considered to be the future of financial systems and the Metaverse is considered to be the future of reality, so these things surely go hand in hand.
Just as a specific country accepts a specific currency for general payments, (for example, USD in America), so does the Metaverse accept crypto for purchases made by and for your avatar. Each Metaverse platform usually has its own crypto tokens, but the most common to purchase digital lands and properties is Ether (ETH).
If you want to purchase NFTs in the Metaverse, some good platforms for your crypto wallet are MetaMask, Coinbase, and Binance.
MANA, for example, is the specific currency on one of the most popular virtual reality platforms, Decentraland. It is an Ethereum token used to buy virtual plots of land, and other goods and services there.
Other examples are SAND, the currency of Sandbox metaverse (buy/sell artistic creations), AXS, for Anxie Infinity Metaverse (characters and land plots), GALA, for Gala Games, and ENJ, for Enjin. Buyers get an NFT title for their purchase, even for real estate.
Will Facebook disappear?
Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, has officially become the CEO and chairman of META, which is the new parent company name for Facebook. So, in other words, Facebook, Inc, the parent company of the notorious social media website Facebook and other applications such as Instagram and Whatsapp, has changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc. in order to represent this new universe they are creating. This reveals the company’s aspiration to become more than just a social media provider.
Mark Zuckerberg estimates that it will take about 10 years for the key features of the Metaverse to become mainstream. The site Facebook will still carry on with this name, and will not be affected in any way by the rebranding of the parent company.
Will Microsoft join the party?
Even Microsoft expressed its intention to join in on this new technology. The first step, possibly to be seen in 2022, will be adding holograms and virtual avatars to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is also working on creating 3D virtual connected spaces for retail and workplaces.
This might come as a surprise, but the U.S. Army is currently collaborating with Microsoft on augmented Hololens 2 headsets, made for soldiers to train and fight.
Is the Metaverse dangerous?
Well, in all honesty, it can be. It depends on who uses it and how they use it. Video games are also considered dangerous because some people become addicted to them, but aside from these extreme cases, they are not only harmless, but can be beneficial for stress release, socializing, learning, and acquiring skills.
The same could apply to the Metaverse. Some people may become addicted to it because it promises a better, more interesting, and safer world. Who wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately, it’s difficult to keep people from becoming addicted to something that makes them feel good, but, on the bright side, psychological services are also becoming more accessible to people through virtual spaces, so potential addictions could be kept under control with the right help which can, ironically, be found through this technology as well.
If you want a little distraction from the real world: you want to explore something, meet new people or play some games, the Metaverse may be good for you, but you need to decide how important you want to let it become in your life and also accept the consequences of that.
The Metaverse comes as an extent to our already existing world, not as a complete replacement. At least for now.
Did this sound a bit like the Matrix to you? That’s because science-fiction media has been approaching this subject since forever and we are on the brink of entering a revolutionary era.
If you like watching movies and series and are interested in similar concepts to the Metaverse, here are 10 recommendations from us:
1. Matrix (1999), directed by Lana Wachowski
2. Minority Report (2002), directed by Steven Spielberg
3. Avatar (2009), directed by James Cameron
4. Gamer (2009), directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
5. Black Mirror (2011)
6. Wreck-It Ralph (2012), directed by Rich Moore
7. Her (2013), directed by Spike Jonze
8. Westworld (2016)
9. Ready Player One (2018), directed by Steven Spielberg
10. Free Guy (2021), directed by Shawn Levy