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How dangerous is the proscept of Metaverse?

It is no secret that the world has been pushed towards digitalization in the last decades. Social media now plays an integral part in the lives of countless people as their presence there becomes an everyday constant. Numerous appeals of online socialization, as opposed to the ones limited by the real world, have allowed people to feel safer and more confident. It is also worth noting worldwide events such as the spread of COVID-19 that forced people into isolation. They would inevitably turn towards social media with even more vigor than previously. One of the recent developments that gained the most popularity has been the Metaverse.

What is Metaverse? It is a designated term for a digital space where people can interact with each other. Unlike social media, however, it is far more advanced in the capabilities it provides. Everyone can create an avatar for themselves and participate in a digitally-created world that can get hyper-realistic with development. There is undoubtedly a push towards that nowadays. Examples of smaller Metaverse, such as VRchat, have already taken hold among people and are often used for communication. The Metaverse at large still needs to be completed and requires a lot of refinements. However, the developments in the area have been relatively rapid.

Avatars are not the only element of the Metaverse, however. Virtual reality is extending, including heavy usage of crypto-currency for various purposes, such as buying virtual land. It also includes heavy AI incorporation, as it often helps create the landscapes in the Metaverse. With its exponential growth, the Metaverse provides a space for people to communicate with each other while also not having a centralized owner, creating a free space compared to others. There is no doubt that Metaverse is destined to become an essential step in people’s socialization.

Akash Takyar provides an overview of the advantages the Metaverse possesses, which are many. First of all, it breaks some barriers to communication between people who are separated by geographical location. This would allow employees to enjoy a quicker and more realistic way to contact each other without leaving their homes and doctors to see their patients when the technology becomes more advanced. With the development of the Metaverse technology, virtual tours can be an exciting possibility. Metaverse can also be used as a platform for new online games, as it would provide maximum immersion and synchronization with one’s avatar. Finally, the openness of the Metaverse would allow people to earn currency via trading and focusing on specific projects. 

2023 brings Metaverse to the spotlight as it’s a year that saw many developments for the project. The focus on blockchain technologies and movement away from the corporation’s control will no doubt be appealing to people worldwide, as they would be able to express themselves and speak their minds without censorship. Another feature is, of course, the realism that has been provided in the newer branches of Metaverse. Virtual reality becomes an Augmented reality almost indistinguishable from the real world with only a few added elements. To top it all, the ability to create a more realistic avatar would make people ecstatic as they could create an idealized version of themselves. 

However, it is essential to remember that Metaverse is imperfect, and its development will undoubtedly come with pitfalls and problems. The most notable of them is the problem with social media and online gaming, which would only become stronger with the presence of Metaverse, the addiction problem People, especially the younger generation who have been raised on social media, are prone to spend more time on it, and with Metaverse providing more and more opportunities, they would see less reason to leave it at all. It would be an easier way to communicate with their peers without wasting as much time and not having to worry about presentation.

 With augmented reality, this question and problem can be developed even more. After all, if virtual reality is so advanced and developed, what point is there to cling to the real world? The augmented reality can be a replica that gets more realistic and embellished yearly. It allows one to control their environment and always be able to quickly join or leave, all while being covered by their idealized avatars. It is an opportunity to feel in charge and safe during your interactions, and especially in the post-COVID era, it will become more of a norm. The continued isolation would lead people to health problems as they see less reason to go outside and exercise, creating more cases of scoliosis or obesity.

It is also worth mentioning the issues of privacy that will inevitably occur due to Metaverse’s structure and format being relatively new. It would be easier to monitor one’s online behavior through a direct avatar, and the consequences of hacking and identity stealing would be more pressing, as it would be akin to taking one’s face and entire presentation and using it to stain one’s name via questionable actions. People in the Metaverse will also not be immune to financial manipulations when they use their cryptocurrency to aid scams unwittingly. Of course, those problems always persisted and could be solvable by better information for people so they could stay safe online and avoid the consequences. Saeed Elnaj explores potential challenges with the Metaverse in his article.

Finally, monitoring what the children are doing is essential, as being on the Metaverse exposes them to countless schemes in which they could be victims. Those can include manipulation, stalking, and grooming, as predators can create avatars that appeal to children. Thus they will be unable to detect the ploy. They would inevitably be the most vulnerable demographic regarding limitless opportunities, and overseeing their access to the Metaverse is vital.

Overall, the Metaverse is an uncharted and, therefore, dangerous territory. It doesn’t mean it should be rejected altogether, but it does mean one must be careful when exploring it. The risks of addiction, identity theft, and financial manipulations will always be present, though hopefully, with time, there will be safer and more reliable ways to deal with those issues. There is no doubt that Metaverse is the next step in online socialization. Suppose people get too consumed by its potential. In that case, it may threaten to replace real life for many, making people physically weak and likely more mentally vulnerable. Those are the risks that should always be kept in mind if Metaverse is to succeed.

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