I’ve always been drawn to “immersive” experiences. Early days, surround-sound and 3D movies. Futuristic concepts like Star Trek’s “Holodeck” made me hope that crazy-smart people would someday create a dial-a-reality. But I never thought I’d have the option of living the majority of my waking hours virtually. Am I ready for the Metaverse, or should I opt out? It feels like a personal decision that I just can’t stay ambivalent about for very long.

The beauty of most immersive experiences, IMO, is that I get to dip in, and dip out. Get refreshed, find inspiration, then get back to real life. A couple of weeks ago, I went to “Beyond Van Gogh”:  a pricey, but amazing, immersive-art experience currently touring the U.S. and elsewhere. My ticket allowed me one hour to hang out. Which was more than enough time to get a total mental re-set.

But as jaw-dropping as the experience was (the small group I was in looked as dazed and glazed as I’m sure I did), I was ready to leave in an hour. It was almost sensory overload, with out-of-body sensations created by the 40-foot tall, floor to ceiling projections, moving and changing as rhythmically as my own heartbeat.

The Van Gogh event was confirmation that, for me, buying a pair of VR goggles was so not happening. I could absolutely see, and sense, how addicting VR could become. (When it feels like you’re ‘in’ a gigantic 3D painting of the artist’s “Sunflowers”, why would you ever choose to leave?)

So, I understand the appeal of the Metaverse, but I’m still in hesitation-mode.

The momentum within this original company has been building. The largest social media platform has been under-fire for all kinds of scandalous conduct. Re-branding itself as “Meta” is not only a distraction, but – turns out – the CEO’s ultimate dream-goal. As a current user of his platform, I’m invited — even encouraged — to spend as much time in this new “Meta” as there are hours in a day. Or night.

It’s interesting how the word ‘meta’ has been co-opted over the years. Educators. Business leaders. Philosophers. Modern-day gurus. So many different versions. Meta-cognition (thinking about thinking); Meta-Human (thinking about what it means to be human); and just now, “Meta”:  the new name for living, working and playing in any and all virtual-realities that just happen to be owned and operated by a ga-zillionaire. Who’s also very transparent about how much money Meta will make for him.

As with any immersive, or VR experience, I realize that ‘choice’ is still the operative word. I have the option of using, or not using, “Meta”. Of being in Meta. And I’m giving serious thought to this right now. I’m weighing the pros and cons of being able to choose, even design my own ‘reality’… not ever having to personally interact in it – I can send my Avatar.

But there’s one issue I still need to come to terms with. If I can clearly grasp what this “Metaverse” is ready to give me, then I also need to understand exactly what it might be taking away. I worry that I might never want to come back from that adventure. I worry that you won’t be there, if and when I do.

%d bloggers like this: