The metaverse explained with parallels from DC and Marvel’s multiverse.
The creation of the internet has revolutionized how people communicate, interact, and transact forever. The first time that the general public accessed the internet, in the late 20th century, humanity had indeed entered a new virtual reality from a physical reality of existence. And from the standpoint of powerful tech company monopolies, the only true limitation of the current internet is its limited interface options.
The internet is a digital portal to an augmented reality where it seems that anything is possible. However, you must go to the internet — the internet cannot come to you. So, tech companies and UX designers are creating a more enticing internet where people are spending ever more progressive hours on the internet.
It is creating a global social problem called “Internet Addiction Disorder,” a mental addiction to the internet akin to alcoholism or drug addiction. However, only South Korea and China have officially recognized the affliction.
While many people and countries don’t take internet addiction disorder seriously, it is undeniable that many people would much rather live in the virtual reality of the limited-interface internet instead of reality.
Since 2001, internet use has surged over 1000% — which is an interesting statistic since only 40% of the world’s population has internet access. Over 77% of Americans log onto the internet every day, with 43% of Americans logging onto the internet multiple times every day.
The average American checks their Facebook account at least 14 times daily.
For added context, consider that only 11% of Americans never use the internet.
And this is not just an American problem — over 420 million people on a global scale are addicted to the internet. That is equivalent to 6% of the world’s population.
And there are many people who are literally dying while trying to immerse themselves into the limited-interface internet permanently.
In 2015, a depressed, unemployed 32-year-old Taiwanese spent over 72-hours binge playing online video games in an internet café. The man died in the internet café and went unnoticed for hours as strangers surfed the internet around his corpse.
In 2017, a 35-year-old man was live streaming video of himself marathon-playing World of Tanks on Twitch for 24-hours when he died.
The point is that there are people who would live in the virtual reality of social media, online video games, and the internet in general if they could. And that fact will be exploited by the tech companies of today to create the metaverse of tomorrow.
The metaverse is a prototype virtual reality simulation of the internet. The metaverse could be a planetary or universe scale simulation of the internet where you can spend all of your time existing.
Decades from now, you may be able to instantaneously interface with the metaverse via computer, virtual reality goggles, or even a cybernetic chip implant. Your metaverse avatar can interact with other avatars, shop online, or engage in online games.
And while only 40% of the world is connected to the internet, the entire world could be wired to the internet at the dawn of the metaverse.
And humanity, as we know, could end, lost in a metaverse controlled by a handful of tech monopolies in the same manner that people get lost in an internet controlled by a handful of tech monopolies now.
Sounds complicated? The best way to explain the metaverse may be to explain the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC. The way that you get lost in a Marvel or DC. movie is the same way that humanity may get lost in the metaverse one day.
We will only reference the film and T.V. adaptations of the respective Marvel and DC for simplicity’s sake. Intellectual properties and not the more convoluted canon of comic book lore.
Marvel and DC Universes
Before the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the world was engrossed in getting lost in the cinematic universes of comic book characters owned by Marvel and DC.
2020 was the first time since 2008 that Marvel, owned by Disney, hadn’t put out a film; it was a move that many understood.
Many casual fans and non-comic book fans don’t understand that Marvel and DC feature characters pertinent to each respective universe.
Spider-Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Black Panther, Iron Man, and the Avengers are Marvel characters who only appear in Marvel films. These characters would not appear in a DC or Justice League film, for example.
There are comic book fans who would rather live in Wakanda or Madripoor, two fictional countries set in the Marvel universe, than in reality.
DC comics characters, owned by AT&T WarnerMedia, include Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Joker, Catwoman, Shazam, Darkseid, the Suicide Squad, and the Justice League, to name a few. These characters are owned by DC and would not appear in the Marvel cinematic universe.
The Flash lives in Central City; Superman lives in Metropolis, Batman lives in Gotham City, and Darkseid rules the planet Apokolips. All of these places and characters are fictional, but fans love watching these films so they can immerse themselves in these fictional worlds.
However, when the film ends, you must return to reality.
When the metaverse arrives, you may have the option to shut out reality as much as you want and live in an augmented reality permanently.
The metaverse is an augmented reality expansion of the internet that feels so real that you may never want to leave. And the metaverse is not just a concept — it basically exists in prototype form now. In a few years or decades, it will be real.
And the metaverse could be the downfall of humanity as we know it.
Privacy, a fast-evaporating concept right before our eyes now on the internet, will be obsolete when all human activity can be tracked in a planet-scale metaverse. Advanced A.I. systems and algorithms, which can track and analyze your activity and guess what you want in the future right now, will only become updated and perfected when the metaverse arrives.
And all of this data will be perpetually owned and monetized by the tech companies and investors investing in the metaverse right now.
And if humanity doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the metaverse and the dangers it poses to privacy and human free will,
If humanity is not careful, the entire metaverse could become one unbreakable monopoly owned by a few companies. Or worse, a real-life version of the A.I. robot monsters in the 1999 film The Matrix.
Still, sounds too outlandish to you? Ask yourself, when was the last time you went on an extended period without your smart device?
According to a recent scientific study, most human beings view their smart devices, and internet connectivity, as home akin to their physical homes. The study says that the internet, social media, and apps have ushered in the “death of proximity” in humanity.
Human beings are more comfortable than ever before being physically disconnected from each other and are proactively living virtual experiences online with limited-interface internet as much as possible.
Who knows what will become of humanity, the concept of privacy, or the free will to live in reality instead of virtual reality, when the metaverse arrives?