Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has been steadily building an alternate universe to reside in, with hopes you and a billion of your closest friends will join them.
It’s all part of the company’s plan to construct what’s known in tech circles as a “metaverse” or, essentially, a virtual reality platform. (Think: “Ready Player One“). A whole new world of Meta’s creation, so central to the company’s plans that they changed their name to reflect it.
During an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave us a little insight into the company’s grand plan to make its metaverse a literal one-stop shop for all your virtual worldly desires.
“We hope to basically get to around a billion people in the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars of commerce each, buying digital goods, digital content, different things to express themselves,” Zuckerberg said, adding, “whether that’s clothing for their avatar or different digital goods for their virtual home or things to decorate their virtual conference room, utilities to be able to be more productive in virtual and augmented reality and across the metaverse overall.”
I’m not exaggerating when I say Meta is planning (virtual) world domination. The company even tried, on multiple occasions, to establish its own global, digital currency for use in the sales Zuckerberg describes. That plan was predictably shut down by federal regulators (although we can still expect other cryptocurrencies and NFTs to play a major role in the metaverse).
The point is that Meta has the inside track to become the most popular and powerful titan in the virtual world. Those of us who’ve criticized Facebook’s manipulative tendencies as a social platform are right to worry how its parent company will operate a virtual platform even more detached from reality. But no one can deny how close the company is to doing just that — and on a huge scale.
They currently have the most affordable, stand-alone virtual reality headset — the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 — on the market. That makes Meta’s platform relatively accessible.
They’re constantly airing ads, which I find both eerily ubiquitous and rather helpful in explaining the coming world of virtual reality. That gives them name recognition.
Even if you don’t believe Zuckerberg’s theory that Meta will get 1 billion people to occupy its virtual world (and I think it’s possible), you can rest assured the company will expend all of its energy and most of its capital trying. That just means important conversations about who controls this and other virtual reality spaces to come, and what these spaces can be used for, are here to stay.