The metaverse has been rumbling underground. Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta announcement pricked the surface and released the pressure with an almighty eruption of interest. One year before the Facebook overlord’s dystopian and gauche unveiling of Meta, Google Trends didn’t have enough data to give information on the search term, “metaverse”. A mere twelve months later, the term is trending globally. This has created an unexpected paradox; a smirking reminder of “be careful what you wish for.”
Many of us have been fervently supportive of the metaverse’s development for several years, which you might guess as you’re reading this on MyMetaverse. However, there reached a point of frustration for the pioneers; an impatience at the speed with which blockchain was being adopted and the metaverse could spread. The gateway was obvious: mainstream adoption. We needed mainstream corporations to see the limitless potential we did. And then they did.
Zuckerberg’s Inelegant Play for the Metaverse
Elegance is not the forte of whales, particularly not whales of industry as well as wealth. That combination leads to them grazing along, scooping up rivals, technology, and innovators like plankton. Wherever the winds of social trends pointed, the whales float over and inhale the best examples. This has been the strategy in the upper echelons of industry for some time and Facebook has exemplified this.
At first, Facebook — sorry, Meta — bought websites pertaining to connecting friends or sharing images. Then, as the winds took the Web 2.0’s citizens to social media with the emphasis on “media”, Facebook-sorry-Meta spent three commas on acquiring the leader of the pack, Instagram. From here, they through three commas in a few other directions, with WhatsApp and Oculus VR, which gives us an indication of direction. Metaface wanted influence in all areas, including future areas yet to exist. VR has been slow on the uptake, but its arrival as a primary medium of visual consumption still seems inevitable, with the metaverse only strengthening its claim for that particular throne.
As the metaverse crept into the tech world’s collective lexicon, flanked by terms such as Web 3.0, a race began. It wasn’t the startling crack of a starter pistol, however, it was just the quiet realization that other people were running somewhere and anybody with any power might have to keep up. This is the point at which a whale would swoop down and scoop up any leader in the space. However, most metaverses are too foetal to provide enough nourishment and the climate is oppressively frosty towards centralized whales. Those looking to build the metaverse want to move away from the mistakes of previous web iterations.
Without the opportunity to acquire what they needed, what is a whale to do? Since becoming a goliath, their pattern was primarily to buy not build. Now, they find themselves in a situation where they need to buy more than ever before to stay relevant and they are unable to. So, Faceverse opts for the brute force approach: rebrand to Meta and invest $10 billion.
The Mixed Bag of Entailments
The knee-jerk reaction of us Metaversians is to hiss and scuttle back to the shadows to lament with each other. It’s no secret that we at MyMetaverse are diametrically opposed to Big Tech owning the metaverse given that the majority of them have proven themselves unworthy of our trust, and unfortunately, Mark Metaberg is one of them. So, the clumsy war cry of “Meta” did turn my stomach a little, but the more time I spend thinking about it, the more conflicted I become.
Many of us — perhaps even most of us — yearned for mainstream adoption. Any blockchain I have any vested interest in I find myself religiously checking rumors, hoping for a big name in the outside world to join forces with the decentralized one. But, I didn’t ever take the time to follow the desire for mainstream adoption to its logical conclusion. Meta Metaberg’s Metabook rebranding to Meta is what that logical conclusion is. This is what mainstream adoption looks like in its most distilled form.
While I stand resolutely on my hill of Big Tech not owning the metaverse, their play for it was inevitable, and the metaverse moving into the blindingly bright spotlight isn’t without its upsides, whether it is how we wanted it to happen or not. Firstly, it’s the word on everybody’s lips. People who have no interest in tech, crypto, or the metaverse, have asked me about all three, knowing I’m involved with all three. “The metaverse is coming” was previously met with indifference at best, and harsh scepticism at worst. Now it’s met with questions over what this metaverse thing might look like. In that regard, the Meta announcement has moved the boat in the right direction.
Silver Linings and Silver Bullets
As the future nears and our dreams of a metaverse begin to take shape, the view has become blurrier in many ways. Before this surge of relevancy, we knew what the metaverse could look like, but now we wonder what it will look like. Interconnectivity has proven itself key, which is comforting as we do not want more tribal warfare, with every developer, large and small, trying to lure you into their own ecosystem. This may well lead to a sort of meta-metaverse, or a metaverse with lots of metagalaxies in it. Whatever the case, voting will still be done with electronic feet, and where we flock to must stand up to the scrutiny of ethics, trustworthiness, and vision.
The MyMeta manifesto is our way of laying out our intentions and core values, and while Facebook’s history flies in the face of our philosophy, its bullish move towards the metaverse will expedite its rise. The mainstream adoption many doubted would ever materialize is here and has come in a far larger form than any of us imagined at this early stage. Let’s take that win, but we mustn’t deviate from the fundamentals of what makes decentralization so impactful. That blend of freedom and of simultaneous privacy and transparency is non-negotiable.