The metaverse refers to a virtual environment that incorporates different internet functions and services, such as socializing, gaming, and business opportunities, all within an immersive virtual reality universe.
It has been heavily debated whether or not the metaverse is a good thing or if it will have negative effects on our future. Many see it as the next logical step for humanity after the internet, while others believe it might do more harm than good.
So, is the metaverse good or bad? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the metaverse, according to my research and personal experience.
Pros of the Metaverse
1. Connecting the world and negating physical distance
The most notable advantage of the metaverse would is the fact that it completely makes geographic barriers irrelevant.
Once you’re in the virtual world, your physical location doesn’t matter anymore and you are no longer bound by it.
The metaverse will act as a neutral space where everyone can meet as equals to some extent. On top of that, finding and meeting people with similar interests and ideas will be easier, will feel more authentic, and allow you to feel more comfortable meeting new friends from the safety of your home.
The Apple Vision Pro is a perfect example of how the metaverse makes seemingly impossible experiences, a reality. Just check out this video. It’s absolutely insane!
2. Immersive experience
Think of the metaverse as a 3D upgrade to the traditional way of using the internet. A more immersive way of experiencing the different aspects of the net and all that it offers.
The big advantage of the metaverse is that you are more enveloped in whatever activity you’re doing.
You experience everything in the most immersive way which allows for more opportunities for both personal and business ventures. You can exercise, socialize, play games, and have business meetings in a virtual environment using the best VR headsets on the market.
3. Better social interactions online
During the Covid quarantine, the only way to interact with other humans was through the internet, despite it not being the most interactive experience.
However, things are different in the metaverse with social interactions and events being way more immersive, allowing users to experience a personal connection with their friends and loved ones.
Meetings, parties, and concerts can all be organized in the metaverse. Physical proximity is no longer a limiting factor for any event or family gathering you may want to attend.
To prove this point, I interviewed someone in the Rove metaverse from the comfort of my own home.
Check out this video where I had an interview with a metaverse expert, and guess what? It happened in the metaverse!
This early glimpse gives us a taste of what future online social interactions might look like. We’re definitely heading in an exciting direction!
4. Upgrading social media
Social media is probably the biggest term used in the past decade. Platforms like Facebook (Meta) and Twitter rely on the social aspect of the internet. And they will undoubtedly benefit from the upgrade into a three-dimensional virtual environment.
Fusing the ability to create virtual spaces in the metaverse with the power of social media to create shared online worlds is a very powerful combination that will enable us to experience social media as we have never before.
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5. New business opportunities
In a similar fashion to how social media has helped create many business opportunities and gave birth to a new form of marketing and advertising on its platforms, the metaverse will provide even greater opportunities.
The metaverse offers a completely immersive way of promoting and consuming products and services, going beyond the limitations of viewing content through a small phone screen.
It introduces innovative marketing and advertisement strategies, including virtualized storefronts, curated shows, and highly interactive engagement and customer service.
This means that you can see the product, hold it, and even feel it using haptic technology (experience of touch through vibration, forces, and motion).
This type of interaction will benefit both the consumer and business, as both parties will receive a better user experience.
6. Improvements to online learning and education
It can’t be ignored how learning and education were impacted during the Covid pandemic, as more than 90% of students were unable to continue their studies, and we had to find other ways to resume education.
This is when online learning became the new norm, utilizing platforms like Zoom.
With the metaverse, learning will be more accessible than ever. The physical location of the classroom no longer needs to be taken into consideration.
People from around the world will be able to share information and study together in real-time in a hands-on educational environment.
In addition to that, since we have full control over what the students see inside the metaverse, conveying ideas and concepts will be easier with visual learning.
At Reddam House School in Berkshire, England, students are utilizing VR headsets to explore the ‘metaverse’ for a range of interactive lessons.
Particularly noteworthy are the science experiments conducted in this virtual environment, which would otherwise be either too hazardous or impractical to carry out in real life.
7. Positive impact on cryptocurrencies and NFTs
Cryptocurrency and NFTs are set to play a major role in the metaverse world through blockchain technology providing security, trust, transparency, and of course decentralization.
Crypto is the currency of the metaverse, and different iterations of the metaverse will use different currencies.
But in essence, you will not be buying digital goods and services with traditional currency, which adds an extra layer of security to virtual environments.
NFTs may have a bigger role in the metaverse than they have had before.
NFTs are a token of ownership of a certain digital or physical asset.
They can be essentially the linking factor between the physical world and the digital world and will help NFT holders to prove ownership of their assets, and move them between various worlds.
The metaverse is a huge concept, and NFTs play a vital role in the big picture.
NFT metaverse brands will further support and improve upon the idea of using NFTs as deeds to properties and other assets in both the physical and digital realms.
8. Improvements to gaming
Gaming is the very first field that benefited from VR and AR technologies. We have witnessed the birth of many new and exciting VR games, and with the technology advancing further, the games are getting better.
Many game production companies are picking up on this fact and are beginning to implement their games into the metaverse.
Some of the leaders in this field are Epic, with their $1 billion investment into gaming in the metaverse in early 2021.
As well, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) rebranded their entire company as the leading forefront of the metaverse world.
This is In addition to other big-name companies like Microsoft with their Xbox metaverse and Roblox.
9. New opportunities for financial gain
Whenever there’s a new technology, people will always find ways to make money from it.
And it’s no different in the metaverse, as people are already coming up with ways to earn a sustainable living utilizing all that the metaverse offers.
Some people are investing in digital real estate, which are plots of land within the metaverse, hoping that in time virtual land will appreciate in value.
Others are earning an income building various assets and architectures in the metaverse, while many are being trained to help develop the metaverse and its overall functionality.
Some are looking into metaverse crypto trading, which also has the potential to rise in price and render any early investors millionaires.
Furthermore, many people are earning money in the metaverse by playing games that reward you with tokens and NFTs, which you can exchange for money.
As well, renting property, hosting concerts, and art galleries are all financially beneficial activities to do within the metaverse.
10. Improvements to the work environment
When Mark Zuckerberg introduced the metaverse, he mentioned a new workspace concept called the infinite office, which promises to make working from home the ultimate experience by increasing convenience, hence improving overall productivity.
The work environment has always taken advantage of new technologies. And the situation will be no different with the emergence of the metaverse and VR technology.
Putting on VR glasses and joining the three-dimensional virtual simulation of your workplace from the comfort of home is definitely an intriguing concept that will benefit many.
Cons of the Metaverse
Cybercrime is a serious problem that has plagued the internet ever since it existed.
Governments have spent millions of dollars and years fighting to combat it, which has helped strengthen the security levels of our current internet systems.
However, since the metaverse is a new concept, it still doesn’t enjoy these sophisticated cyber security levels.
This makes it extremely vulnerable to all sorts of illegal activities, such as fraud, money laundering, child exploitation, illegal goods, services trafficking, and cyberattacks, to name a few.
Another reason for concern is the fact that due to the decentralized aspect of the metaverse, governments don’t have much power to fight and counter cybercrime.
2. Negative impact on cultures and societies
One disadvantage of bringing everyone so close together and fusing the different cultures of the world into one is losing the beautiful cultural diversity currently present in the world.
If people are going to be spending the majority of their time in the metaverse, they will no longer feel connected to their small immediate society, and won’t feel the need to embrace their own local or regional culture.
This may eventually lead to the end of many traditions that have existed since the beginning of mankind, and will create a new society, although unifying and all-encompassing, it may end up stale and uninteresting.
3. Addiction problems
Similar to gaming, addiction can become an issue. Some argue that there is a bigger addiction risk with the metaverse, as you’re fully immersed in a virtual world.
Besides your essential physical needs like eating and sleeping, you don’t need to leave your VR setup.
Kids and teenagers are the most at risk, as experts suggest that exposing individuals under the age of 18 to the metaverse and letting them spend too much time in it will cause some serious harm to their development.
Moreover, living in a virtual state may make it difficult to differentiate between the real world and the virtual world.
It will be a big challenge to balance allowing teenagers and adults enough time in the metaverse while trying to prevent addictive behavior.
4. Losing connection with the physical world
One major concern that many people have about the metaverse is how easy it is to lose track of time while you’re in it.
As your senses are basically disabled, or to be put in another way, they’re connected to the virtual world instead of the real world.
I personally experienced this phenomenon while playing a game on the Oculus VR headset.
Not only did I lose track of time, but the game I played had such an intense effect that it caused the hairs on my arm to stand up and gave me a feeling of anxiety as I walked through a creepy room.
I wish I had a video of me playing the game, but I don’t. Fortunately, I found this video of Tyrone playing the same game to illustrate just how startling the metaverse can be.
That said, people who are exposed to the metaverse for too long might lose their attachment to reality and may go beyond that—to not wanting to acknowledge the existence of a world besides the virtual one.
5. Privacy and security issues
Privacy has always been a concern on the internet, with people unaware of their data being collected and sold to advertisers, among many other things.
What makes these concerns worse is the fact that Meta is leading the charge toward the new metaverse.
Considering their previous history with privacy concerns of their users, that doesn’t simply fade away with their name change.
6. Mental health issues
Beyond all the social connection, entertainment, and business sides of the metaverse, there stands a serious risk to mental health for metaverse users.
Despite the use of virtual reality under controlled environments to help patients with schizophrenic symptoms, we cannot count on the metaverse to be controlled or crafted to help people with these illnesses.
Psychological studies also indicated that immersion in this digital world and separating ourselves from the real world would increase the likelihood of being permanently divorced from reality, and might even lead to symptoms close to psychosis.
Depression is also a risk for those who will join the metaverse and find it better than their real lives, lowering their self-esteem and causing them to go through severe depressive episodes.
7. Virtual bullying
Malicious behaviors towards others can be found in all parts of the internet, whether it be on social media or in games.
Despite numerous campaigns to prevent or limit those behaviors. Taking the internet into a 3D setting and letting users feel fully immersed in the metaverse will give these bad actors more power.
This leads to more significant opportunities to attack others and might make victims more vulnerable, and less protected, as there is no longer a screen to look away from.
Bullying, harassment, and personal attacks on anyone are inevitably going to be one of the dark sides of the metaverse, and unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to combat it.
Experts are warning that some of the problems we have IRL such as harassment, are going virtual with us according to CNBC.
8. Lack of moderation
It has been recognized that moderation is going to be a huge feat. Monitoring so many users at once is not going to be an easy job.
Moderation at any meaningful scale is virtually impossible, and the prevention of toxicity cannot happen through penalization.
Currently, there doesn’t seem to be a way to combat this, given Meta’s poor handling of bad behaviors on its social network “Facebook”. The metaverse seems to be doomed with the possibility to be a toxic environment.
9. Connection and hardware issues
The metaverse is going to require a fast and reliable internet connection to make the shared virtual environment as seamless as possible.
This must include fiber-based connection and fifth-generation wireless network technology, including the 5G technology, and even next-generation networks.
Another issue is the fact that it discriminates between those who have the ability to acquire and use the hardware and digital tools needed to access the metaverse and those who do not.
Less fortunate people and communities will not be able to enjoy its benefits. At least — not at first.
10. Corporate takeover
When social media started, it was supposed to be for individuals like you and me, to create and interact with others’ content. Until big corporations took over.
Perhaps the greatest example is how companies jumped to YouTube and took over command from individual creators and we saw a shift from homemade authentic videos, to professionally produced and edited videos made by teams of pros.
It’s a great fear that the same will happen in the metaverse, where instead of individuals having social interactions with each other, big companies will take control and turn the virtual world into their own new ground for marketing campaigns, running ads, and utilizing metaverse features to serve their own selfish interests.
Ultimately the metaverse still has a long way to go before it’s fully optimized. I believe that many of the pros will develop into something even greater than we can fathom today.
On the flip side, the cons are still a concern, but many of the bad things to come from the development of the metaverse may diminish over time as it becomes fully optimized.
At the end of the day, the decision is always in the hands of the people, not the technology. Meaning, if you don’t find value in what the metaverse has to offer, don’t use it.
If you are concerned about some of the cons listed, you can make a choice to limit your exposure by setting rules and limitations for yourself. Whether that’s time limits or other restrictions, the power is in your hands to decide if you want to use the metaverse, and how you choose to use it.
Frequently Asked Metaverse Questions
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a virtual environment that incorporates different internet functions and services, such as socializing, gaming, and business opportunities, all within an immersive virtual reality universe.
What are the advantages of the metaverse?
The metaverse offers several benefits, including global connectivity, immersive experiences, enhanced social interactions, upgraded social media platforms, new business opportunities, improved online learning, positive impact on cryptocurrencies and NFTs, advanced gaming experiences, financial opportunities, and an enhanced work environment.
What are the potential drawbacks of the metaverse?
Concerns related to the metaverse encompass cybercrime risks, impact on cultures and societies, addiction issues, disconnection from the physical world, privacy and security concerns, potential mental health challenges, virtual bullying, lack of moderation, connectivity, and hardware issues, and the potential for corporate dominance.
What are the dangers of the metaverse for children?
The dangers of the metaverse for children include exposure to cyberbullying, online predators, inappropriate content, excessive screen time leading to health issues, potential for addiction, and compromised privacy and security, according to CNBC.