Following a hectic couple weeks with Frances Haugen testifying in front of the United States Congress and discussing how Facebook is “optimizing their own interests like making more money” rather than making it (along with Instagram) safer against misinformation and cyber bullying. Succeeded by a six-hour blackout on October 4, Mark Zuckerberg’s company formerly known as Facebook has now rebranded as ‘Meta’, although the app remains the same.
During an hour-long livestream, Zuckerberg discussed the “most important experience of them all: connecting.” Meta’s goals over the next few years are to introduce new ways of connecting with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in work, gaming, entertainment, and social environments. With avatars and custom physical settings, Meta’s “new north star,” as Zuckerberg puts it, is to “help bring the Metaverse to life.”
Since the announcement of the name change, Meta’s shares have certainly been brought to life with their stocks steadily rising to $400.71 CAD per share as of November 1.
While Zuckerberg showcases illustrations of VR simulations, it makes us ponder whether or not this future will go from virtual to actual reality.
Jenna Warriner is the founder and social media manager of Parkdale Republic, a company that helps small businesses build authentic followings. Warriner recalls that the first time they tried to email someone with their phone, they were “so confused and fumbled my way through navigating the device. That was only 10 years ago and now my iPhone lives in my hand. Technology is moving at hyper-speed and VR and AR are the next frontiers. I think 10 years from now the use of this tech will be an every-day occurrence.”
However, despite Meta’s change of pace, Warriner believes not that not much will change.
“Rumour has it Facebook (and Zuckerberg’s ego) are dead set on spearheading this whole ‘Metaverse’ landscape. I wouldn’t be shocked if this name change is phase one, designed to make competitors think they’re further ahead with Metaverse than they are, when in reality they’re still in the dreaming-up-ideas stage.”
In regards to the younger generation, and particularly students, third-year media arts student Montserrat Cadena feels that the changes at Meta will have a huge effect on students because it has “such a strong connection with everyone.”
“It was one of the first softwares that people used to interact with their friends and to form strong connections regardless of distance,” Cadena says.
Warriner echoed similar sentiments, when asked if VR will become an alternative way of living. “For some folks, yes. City-dwellers and industries who typically early-adopt tech will catch on first.” Warriner also made another interesting observation that “folks with severe social-anxiety and some disabilities may even thrive in a metaverse.”
Ultimately, there are certainly several benefits to the idea of the Metaverse; it could make meeting with friends and co-workers easier and it could bring life to something that was merely a figment of humanity’s imagination and creativity. Regardless of the outcome, it is safe to assume that these groundbreaking advancements are inevitable.