The Metaverse: Just Another Gilded Cage?

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1 year ago

One thing every company creating for the future metaverse will have to think about is how the money will work. Currently, the metaverse is as real as Superman’s underwear, but experts predict that those super panties will be a reality in 10 years.

In fact, they’re saying the metaverse economy could be valued at $13 trillion by 2030. And there’s no telling what kind of crazy and weird things people will be doing there. One couple recently renewed their wedding vows in Decentraland, for all the world to see. Brands are climbing all over each other’s backs to have a representation in the metaverse. Facebook went so far as to rebrand itself as Meta, I’m guessing so that it can wage a hostile takeover of the fantasy land that doesn’t quite exist yet. Victoria’s Secret, not to be outdone, is enticing tweens with sexy lingerie just for them—in the metaverse!

Whatever man can conceive, man can achieve.

All of this has me wondering, if the metaverse won’t fully exist as most of us imagine it for another 10 years, how long will it be before some conjured up metaverse brand takes itself into the real world? In other words, suppose a metaverse-only retail shop named Crazy Al’s Emporium brands itself with an NFT avatar that resembles a cross between a centaur and a unicorn. It doesn’t exist in real life. You can only buy Crazy Al’s merchandise in the metaverse. But after five years of successful business, and after selling $10 million worth of NFTs and other digital assets, Crazy Al decides to take his business offline. He opens up a retail shop in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, specializing in real-world representations of his most popular digital products. It’s an instant hit!

Before you know it, Crazy Al has a retail shop in every major city in the world with a population of 1 million or more.

Is this the reality we’re moving toward? A virtual world in which anything goes (almost) and whose economy rivals that of the largest nations, where citizens can live their entire lives pretending to be someone else in a fantasy environment that could all come crashing down if a cataclysmic event such as an international blackout disrupts it all? Where this fantasy world and the real world are indistinguishable, separated only by a thin line of illusion?

Goldman Sachs says Meta and Apple are leading in the race to illusion. What’s that mean exactly?

When two of the largest proprietary giants of Web 2.0 are the leading developers of Web 3.0, does it mean we’re destined for a centralized metaverse, one where the illusion is not merely the blurring of the lines between reality and virtual reality but one where a parallel illusion indicates that virtual fantasy land isn’t owned by anyone when in fact it is owned by two of the largest real-world corporations we know? That would truly be an earth-shattering illusion, wouldn’t it?

But man’s imagination has its limits. We can’t live our entire lives as a fantasy, can we? The Greeks created their gods and gave them the same personalities as the humans who made them. Perhaps that is why virtual land developers resort to the principles of real-world urban planning.

At the end of the day, our real world is not virtual. Someday, it may be. And citizens could migrate seamlessly between the physical world in which their bodies live and the virtual land where their imaginations dwell. They’ll give birth to virtual children while living childless in physicality, join decentralized autonomous organizations that pay them a salary in real money for performing imaginary services in the metaverse, and build decentralized cities with both a physical and virtual component.

If Shakespeare was correct, all the world is indeed a stage. Someday, we may find ourselves in a globular virtual theater where stage and audience have melded, each of us the other’s audience inside a gilded cage.

Cryptocracy is a decentralized newsletter published 4 times a week. I curate the latest news and crypto analysis from some of the brightest minds in crypto, and sometimes offer a little insightful and snarky commentary. Always fresh, always interesting, and always crypto.

First published at Cryptocracy. Not to be construed as financial advice.

Image credit: Unsplash

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