Facebook to Meta: A Cause for Concern

by The Cowl Editor


Opinion


Facebook to Meta: A Cause for Concern

By Zach Rossi ’23

 

It has been nearly three weeks since Facebook announced that their company name is changing to “Meta.” While the move will not affect Facebook as a social media platform, the name change is motivated by the company itself and their hope for being the leading force in establishing the “metaverse,” a virtual reality in which users can socialize through the use of avatars.  

Upon the announcement, Facebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said his focus on a future metaverse is molded around attracting younger users to his company’s services, believing that this sort of virtual reality is to be “the successor to the mobile internet.” Early launches of the “experience” have not included Facebook, but other companies, such as Roblox Corp. and Epic Games Inc., released a virtual concert that users could attend as avatars, which was attended by millions. The initiative taken by companies outside of Facebook, as well as the large amount of people using the content in its beginning stages, indicates that the metaverse is indeed the future of the online realm.  

With the early success of the metaverse product, and the expectation that further developments will make these sorts of virtual events more lifelike for users, some cause for concern is warranted. A software like this becoming as vastly mainstream as using the internet on your iPhone would be detrimental to normal human functions within society. It would result in everyday people reverting to their virtual realms to connect with one another as modern-day society now does on social media, a media experience that is substantially less realistic than the metaverse, yet already results in severe psychological damage for younger users. As Zuckerberg has admitted, the push towards the metaverse is to draw in younger users; one can only imagine the mental and emotional damage a real-life virtual reality will do to teenagers.  

While the incredible advancement of technological abilities is worth celebrating and admiring, when the advancements are being used to society’s detriment rather than benefit, consumers should not give into the product no matter how intriguing it may be. Facebook itself has admitted, and outside sources have confirmed, that their platform is harmful to young people’s minds. The damage that will be done to young people by the embracement of virtual reality will only make their actual reality more miserable. Within a virtual reality, people will be able to tailor everything to exactly how they want it, allowing them to live through perfect experiences. Once people leave these perfect surroundings they created for themselves, they are left with a reality where everything is far from perfect.  

There is no question that the metaverse will become mainstream in due time. A CNN poll recently showed that 76 percent of American adults believe Facebook is making society worse, yet the vast majority of people are still active on the platform. If Facebook is already making society worse, the metaverse will have far more detrimental impacts on the way society functions. In a society where the metaverse is as mainstream as social media today, people will be attending concerts with millions of other “people” while interacting with each other’s avatar, but in reality these users are likely going to be sitting in their bedrooms alone instead of having legitimate human interaction. It has already been made clear that social media today is no substitute for actual relationships, experiences, and lived entertainment, so why should we expect the metaverse to be any better? Instead, we should expect the virtual reality experiment to be as dangerous as it sounds. The metaverse should not be encouraged, but condemned in order to keep some sense of normalcy in society.  


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