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Opinion: Is the Metaverse an Overrated Technology?

The Metaverse is the Last Cloud of Smoke that They Want to Sell us From Silicon Valley.

Mark Zuckerberg

Photo: Latin American Post

LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Opinión: ¿Es el metaverso una tecnología sobrevalorada?

For months now, the tech world, led by big names like Mark Zuckerberg, has been trying to sell us the idea that the metaverse is the next big thing for human interaction.

Zuckerberg's promise of a virtual reality world where we can work, play and live a double life is falling short, to say the least. A few days ago, the founder of Facebook released the latest demo of the virtual reality universe he is building, Horizon Worlds, and it was the laughing stock of the Internet. Not only did the graphics it showed seem to belong to a console generation from over 15 years ago, but its "virtual world" was completely empty. Apart from some trees and hills, there is nothing in terms of landscape that a modern video game has to envy this 10 billion dollar project.

But this is not the main problem facing the metaverse. In fact, this technology could be doomed from its initial point of entry, the virtual reality glasses themselves.

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And it is that, for the vast majority of people, virtual reality glasses are an uncomfortable, expensive and inconvenient technology. Leaving aside the fact that this technology excludes those who have motor disabilities in their heads or arms, virtual reality glasses cause mental fatigue that makes them difficult to use for extended periods of time.

Ask anyone who has interacted with this technology. After a few minutes, the eyes begin to ache, the head and some people even experience dizziness shortly after starting to wear the lenses. These are biological barriers that this technology has not yet managed to overcome.

On the other hand, there is no need to dwell on the matter, it is much easier to use a keyboard or a control than a virtual reality set. The virtual reality controls are imprecise, while the keyboards adjust to the movements we make day after day at work. They are more familiar to us.

The pandemic showed that there is no substitute for in-person interaction

On the other hand, the idea that the metaverse will become the new main way people interact is hardly credible. During the pandemic, we had all the necessary tools to connect with others, to the point that even jobs that had always been face-to-face were completely virtual.

However, despite the constant online interaction we had, many people noticed alterations in their mental health due to the lack of face-to-face communication. Connections in the real world are irreplaceable, and online connections are an anemic replacement for them. If the metaverse wants to become the next locus of human interaction, it has to find a way to make interactions online as satisfying as interactions in real life.

There are many obstacles that a virtual world has to overcome to begin to be a replacement for current social networks, much less for the real world. The question that remains is whether Zuckerberg knows this, or is he sticking to his current vision out of sheer pride?