Welcome to the Metaverse - Challenges for our World after Facebook

Greek media is brimming with clickbait regarding the change from Facebook inc. to the Greek origin name “Meta” instead of focusing on what  this transformation means for digital democracy and social media. Greek media’s reaction to the announcement of changing the name of the parent company to Metaverse was anticipated. This is due to the fact that it has been common practice for Greek media to only describe international news rather than provide deeper analysis. Most of the headlines and reports in digital media or on TV focused on the Greek origin of the word “meta” (meta = after), causing a clickbait, with only a few exceptions discussing this alteration. 

Nowadays, most people in Greece discussing the metaverse do not actually understand how it will shift our daily life.'M When it comes to this extension, there are some aspects humanity should take into great consideration. First and foremost, this is not a new project. Mark Zuckerberg and his team have been designing this evolution since 2015. The OCULUS company will offer the possibility for people to be transported into a virtual reality, where they will participate in a parallel universe through an avatar. It is basically a believable environment where humans will get the sense that they are taking part in an experience, a game, a movement, a social event, only that it will be virtual.

Nonetheless, being “active” on social media does not seem to be a revolution. We are actually part of the digital world, almost everyone uses social media on a daily basis, but the question that arises now, is how people will be protected between real life and VR?

Wars, conflicts, the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential lockdown, led to people spending more and more time in their homes. Should a new pandemic and lockdown happen, a lot of people will maybe prefer to escape into  VR, since Metaverse will ideally offer it. As a consequence, humans will be completely disconnected from reality. On a national level, Greece is a country where people enjoy meeting face to face and having personal interactions, it is a big part of our culture, so I have my reservations about how the Greek community will actually react to VR. Keeping in mind the Greek culture and mindset, I firmly believe that this process will take a lot of time to actually be set up in Greece.

Nevertheless the role of media literacy will have a  completely different meaning after the arrival of Metaverse, especially regarding social media addiction and the impact technological and data-driven systems will have on individuals. Furthermore, systematic effort by national and global sectors should be initialized in order to enhance control of the Metaverse. After all, the goal should be that this innovation will contribute to improving our lives – much like  no one can doubt the positive contribution of social media to humanity.

Since it is the first attempt of a VR transformation, it should be given careful consideration. Up until now, all the discussions are happening  on a theoretical and philosophical basis, but it is very important to correct the defective aspects and improve them for the next stage of humanity’s evolution.

Guest Author

Iosifina Tsagkalidou from Greece

Contributions by external authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editors.

January 2022