Maybe the Metaverse wasn’t such a good idea after all?
In October 2021, Facebook announced to rebrand itself with a new name, ‘Meta,’ to focus on building what they are calling the next evolution of the internet; The Metaverse.
The Metaverse will be a 3D immersive virtual world that will dramatically change our lives, just like the internet did back in 1995.
It will allow its users to virtually interact with other people across the globe, play games, buy real estate, and do almost everything simulating the real physical world, and all you would need is a pair of AR glasses and high-speed internet.
While this seems exciting to live a second life online in a magical virtual world, experts warn that the Metaverse will disrupt almost everything in human life.
Here are 10 ways Metaverse will change our lives for the worst
Data Security and Privacy
Many believe that Meta is nothing more than a rebranding stint to remove the data breach stain.
What is the guarantee that there will be no intrusion with theft of personal data of millions of people in the Metaverse? Given the track record of Facebook, it is likely that the users will be highly susceptible to data breaches which include credential theft, social engineering attacks, and scams.
The Proteus Effect
The proteus effect is the proclivity of people to be influenced by their digital self-representation, e.g., avatars or social media personas.
This would mean that there is a high chance that users would mimic their virtual avatars in real-life in demeanor and behavior. So, if an avatar’s actions are repeatedly immoral or criminal in the Metaverse, the behavior could also translate to real life.
Impact on Mental Health
There are already studies depicting the role of social media sites like Instagram etc., in causing loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
The Metaverse will be a social media world on steroids. It will break the emotional bond of people to life. According to some Turkish experts, it will be a physically alienated virtual world, the use of which can cause a loss of cognitive skills.
The freedom to create a perfect representation of yourself in the form of an avatar would allow people with self-esteem issues to present an ideal version of themselves. This might trigger severe psychosis leading to paranoid delusions, distress, and depression.
Illusionary Utopian Future
Virtual reality has the power to blur the line between reality and fantasy. Since each one of us would have the option of creating our own persona, identity, and assets in the Metaverse, it will create a Utopian Future.
We would be sitting all day on a couch wearing goggles and succeeding in a digital world while failing miserably in real life. It will only provide people with escapism from real-life issues and challenges.
China is already using dystopian social monitoring to control its population. The algorithms already decide what we see online.
With the incubation of the Metaverse, we will enter the dominion reserved for fictional dystopia. Your behavior and personal information in the Metaverse will be thoroughly tracked and used for corporate and state-level control, jeopardizing your individual liberty.
Abuse and Harassment
Studies have found that 10 to 50 percent of AI interactions are abusive.
The Metaverse already had a grouping incident where fellow male avatars virtually sexually abused a woman in a game.
Anonymity and distance encourage aggressive behavior, and in the absence of adequate prevention measures, the Metaverse might not be a safe place for females and juveniles.
Scams in the Metaverse
Offenders are naturally attracted to environments where rules don’t exist.
The Metaverse is like a digital wild west where behind all the excitement lurks security risks of scams, e.g., crypto, smart contracts, NFTs, and even social engineering scams.
Meta will have to diligently work on authenticating the identities of avatars to detect fake profiles, perhaps via facial biometrics or liveness detection, etc.
The Metaverse will be extremely addictive
A study by Chinese University showed that VR is 44% more addictive than flat gaming.
The 3D personalized experience where you can do whatever you want will allow your brain to release dopamine, producing a euphoric effect, compelling you to use the Metaverse for extended periods while you stay unplugged from reality.
Conduit for Hate Speech and Misinformation
Social media is already a disturbing cesspool of fake news.
The Metaverse will become an amplified channel for false information and even a community platform for rabble-rousers with an interactive and multimodal environment.
The immersive and experiential environment of the Metaverse would convince people to believe in fake news and may cause social unrest.
Will Exacerbate Social Divisions
Experts have warned that the Metaverse could pose an insidious threat to society and even reality itself.
Virtual reality deprives us of the in-depth and powerful context of human relationships. A perfect yet forged persona in the Metaverse would mean that we would never be able to have more meaningful and closer human interactions.
The Metaverse constitutes the next step in information technologies. It has the power to enrich our lives in wonderful ways. Policymakers, platform owners, and users will have to find ways to rein in the dangers of this uplifting technology.
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