I Don't Need to Live in Yet Another Man-Created World, Zuck


You'd have to have been living under a rock not to know that Mack Zuckerberg's new entrepreneurial venture is the Metaverse, a completely virtual world. Using VR headsets, a person can feel as if they are in this alternate world, with not only sense and hearing, but also touch and sense of bodily movement. No doubt smell and taste will eventually make an appearance.

Of course, this is all monetized--that is, would you like your avatar to have clothes? Beyond a basic black T-shirt which comes with the avatar, you will need to buy your clothes at Metaverse shops within the simulation. (Currently, you don't have to worry about pants because the avatars end at the waist.) Want to see a concert in the Metaverse? You'll pay for the ticket, of course.

So surely there must be something special to get you into a simulation of the real world where your biggest form of entertainment is to buy something? Well, they say you can build (buy) a house and make it look any way you want. Okaaaay.

And then there's the issue that this is a world built by men with men foremost in mind. One of the beta testers, a woman, was immediately groped by the male avatars as she entered the Metaverse--which she could "feel." Other avatars talked dirty to her. Great.

The answer from Metaverse is to build a feature called "Safe Zone," which is explained in this way: "This in-built tool activates a protective bubble that no one else can penetrate by touching them, talking to them or interacting with them in any way." So let me get this straight--a woman entering the Metaverse can only be safe if she puts herself in solitary confinement. Yep, that's a man-made world--it's already got purdah for women.

One woman assessed her experience in this way:

"So what is social VR like? Imagine gaming combined with zany, old-style Internet chat rooms: messy, experimental and often dominated by men. There are trolls and obnoxious kids. And while most people are generally well-behaved and enthusiastic about the new medium, there seem to be few measures in place to prevent bad behavior beyond a few quick guidelines when you enter a space and features that let you block and mute problematic users."

Oh, lovely. Maybe it's a very good thing that avatars end at the waist.

So what are Mark Zuckerberg's plans? They're big, of course:

"Mark Zuckerberg claims humanity will move into the metaverse in the future, leaving reality behind for a world of our own creation, that we completely control. He said there will be a point where virtual worlds are so immersive, and convenient, that we won't want to leave, and this is the point where it becomes the metaverse. These virtual reality environments aren't at that level yet, he explained, but lots of people already live much of their lives in the digital world - just on 2D screens.

"'A lot of people think that the metaverse is about a place, but one definition of this is it's about a time when basically immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we live our lives and spend our time,' Zuckerberg [said]. Meta plans to spend the next five to 10 years building an immersive virtual world, including scent, touch and sound to allow people to get lost in VR."

So the primary way we are going to live our lives, is to not actually live our lives? To not feel real grass, but simulated grass? To hug our loved ones with virtual arms, even when they are sitting right next to us in the real world? To feel only a simulated wind on our faces?

IS ZUCKERBERG INSANE? Why would we ever trade a simulated life for a real one?

And on behalf of women, why would we ever trade one obnoxious male-created and male-centered world for another one?

No, thank you. You'll never see me in the Metaverse.