Better-Than-Life: The Metaverse

The Metaverse is the new global dream, promising to be a revolutionary technology that will have an impact on every aspect of our lives. However, how real is this dream?

Better-Than-Life: The Metaverse
A person escaping the harsh reality of life into the Metaverse - Powered by MidJourney AI

The Metaverse is a wonderful and exciting idea. But like all great things in life, there is a catch. The catch is that the Metaverse isn't quite ready for prime time. Although it's being built, there are still a lot of technical kinks to work out before it can be considered a stable platform capable of handling real-world use cases.

Let's cut through the marketing jargon, skip the executive presentations and get straight to imagining life in the Metaverse.

But before we dive into this digital world, it's important to understand what the Metaverse concept really is.

The Metaverse Concept

In 1992, the sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson first coined the term metaverse, in his book Snow Crash, to describe a massive 3D network where all meet and interact. But what is the Metaverse?

Meta pitches the Metaverse as the logical evolution of social media, where you can interact with people using a digital avatar in virtual reality. But while you're there, you can use the in-game store to buy a house, a car, a pet and so on. And the idea is that in the future, instead of having this generic in-game store, companies can set up their own store in the world where the player can go and buy things.

So a better and more descriptive name for Metaverse would be: World of Sims VR or Second Life VR.

In fact, Second Life already does all this, including remote digital meetings.

The Road to The Metaverse

The real challenge behind the metaverse is the immersive VR experience. Walking and interacting in the metaverse is still a long way off, too far off for today's technological standards. And very much from a third party, still very close to where VR was back in the 80s and 90s.

Walking is still the biggest problem. You can't walk through the metaverse like you can in the real world. In the real world, I can go outside and walk for days in the same direction. Your living room isn't big enough, and even building big halls isn't going to solve that.

There are technologies being developed to solve that problem, like moving floors, but that's not going to solve it either. It may look like it solves the problem, but your inner-ear is still telling you that the ground is shifting under your feet, thus ruining immersion.

Another problem is that people get VR sick after a few minutes. But if Metaverse is intent on being used for virtual meetings, then we should consider that many managers spend 15-20 hours per week in meetings.

Aside from motion sickness, having small screens obscure your vision is bound to take a toll on the micromuscles in your eye, which no longer have to stretch and contract to see objects at different distances.

The full health implications of VR have yet to be studied. And given the way such studies are conducted these days, we can expect one set of research to show that there are no negative side effects, and another set to show that there are.

And before Meta gets rid of those Sims graphics, they can forget about acceptance. They better upgrade to Unreal Engine or some other superior solution by the time they go live.

Like it or not, the most plausible approach to the metaverse remains the one shown in dystopian films, straight into the brain.

Better-Than-Life Braindance

Braindance is a concept found in the Cyberpunk universe, where one person can experience the memories of another through a special device. It's a complete sensory experience.

This would lead to the recording of various brain dances, from race car drivers recording themselves driving at high speeds. Hikers recording themselves climbing the highest mountains. Rock stars recording their memories as they perform in front of a crowd of thousands.

And of course there is the underground market, where people can experience the darker side of life.

If Metaverse wants to offer an immersive service, it will have to offer black market services.

This is the first element, that makes this product unimplementable.

Social media companies focus on engagement time. The longer they keep people engaged, the more ads they will see, driving up the advertising revenue.

It stands to reason then that the inevitable goal is to keep people engaged in the metaverse for as long as possible, and furnishing a digital home can only entertain a person for so long.

Shadowrun takes a similar approach. The user could purchase a Better Than Life (BTL) program. BTLs are addictive Simsense outputs that stimulate the brain's pleasure centres. Users often become addicted and loop themselves into continuous playback, which can lead to severe side effects and even death. BTLs are distributed online and through chips that burn out after one use. There are different types of BTLs, each offering different experiences and sensations, and their use often results in an emotional crash.

This led to rampant escapism. The rise of a new addict: the BTL junkie. Dissatisfied with his real life, the BTL junkie will do anything to escape the misery of reality and enjoy the comforts of the virtual world.

In Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, the Metaverse is a digital network with some similarities to the Internet. Users log into the Metaverse using a virtual reality headset with earphones. The Metaverse is populated by real people, represented by avatars, and synthetic characters of varying complexity.

It's a virtual reality world that includes homes, corporate headquarters, nightclubs and other types of buildings that exist in reality, as well as some that don't. Upon entering the metaverse, the user is presented with a brilliantly lit boulevard that stretches into an infinite blackness. The user navigates this fantasy world through his avatar.

Much like in the other two instances, here too, the character ends up using the Metaverse to escape the harshness of the real world. And once again, the tool becomes a vice.

But there's more than just risks and vices here... more than just virtual meetings, and a space to trade NFTs.

The Latent Potential

We could share the memories of geniuses. Like in Assassin's Creed, with the Animus. Ordinary people could access the memories of Leonardo DaVinci, Nikola Tesla or Socrates. We could educate the young in minutes what takes us 17 years now, if we consider K-12, Bachelor and Master.

Furthermore, by allowing people to break through the barrier of time and play out entire lifetimes, a whole new level of wisdom, understanding and empathy could emerge.

Consider the possibility of placing leaders in a series of virtual worlds, calculated by AI, and exposing them to the results of their policies.

Democracy would be strengthened and fear-mongering could be brushed aside with a mere dream.

The Digital Human Husk

In its heyday, World of Warcraft showed us that millions of people, dissatisfied with their real lives, were more than willing to abandon the real world for the glory of the virtual world.

And therein, I believe, lies one of the dangers that would need to be addressed before we even consider unleashing the Metaverse on the general public.

If this were to happen, we would have to consider that money earned in the real world would be spent in the virtual world. In the long run, this would make the virtual world more real than the real world because you would have invested more of yourself in your virtual life.

After all, why work in the real world when you can work in the digital world? So the owner of the metaverse would become the new tax collector, the de facto government, and therefore judge, jury and executioner.

Why the Metaverse

The real reason people are working on the Metaverse is because it gives AI the ability to collect user data, movements and experiences in a way it couldn't before.

It's a new level of market research and psychological analysis of the human psyche, powered by unimaginable amounts of data being collected and processed in real time.

So the ultimate reason is more control over the consumer.


The Metaverse has the potential to change the world in unimaginable ways. However, there are dangers that should not be ignored or even brushed aside. Imagine if everyone around you lived in its virtual world every day. What would happen to your children? Your loved ones? How would you balance life in the Metaverse with life in the real world? And do you trust others around you to act as responsibly as you do?

I hope I have been able to shed some light on the Metaverse that is often lacking in marketing material and corporate presentations. Now, if you find that this article has made you think about things you hadn't thought about before, just subscribe to the blog. It'll be fine, I promise! You will be part of a community of forward thinkers shaping the future for you and your loved ones.