Metaverse? Are You Kidding Me?!
Blow, Charles M . New York Times (Online) , New York: New York Times Company. Oct 31, 2021.
ProQuest document link
Just call me an old man, a troglodyte, a Luddite, whatever.
I have no interest in becoming part of a “metaverse.” That is the future Mark Zuckerberg’s troubled Facebook is
aiming toward as it renames itself Meta. And what is this metaverse, you may ask? The New York Times explains:
“Mr. Zuckerberg painted a picture of the metaverse as a clean, well-lit virtual world, entered with virtual and
augmented reality hardware at first and more advanced body sensors later on, in which people can play virtual
games, attend virtual concerts, go shopping for virtual goods, collect virtual art, hang out with each other’s virtual
avatars and attend virtual work meetings.”
That sounds absolutely ridiculous. And terrible. As with all new things, they appeal to some, maybe to millions,
maybe even to most. But I have had to put my foot down, and I’ve actually been doing it a little at a time for a while
I keep telling myself that I must live in the here and now, that social media, in many ways, poisons our capacity to
Don’t get me wrong, social media has many virtues, and I have not and will not turn away from it completely. After
carefully curating the people, institutions and outlets that I follow, I now encounter more information than I could
ever have imagined, more information than I can process. It is an embarrassment of riches, really.
Furthermore, social media is another publishing platform, and as a person who produces content that is published,
social media was another outlet for me. I could publish mini-takes, things too short or insubstantial for a column or
a segment of television.
I started my career in journalism as a designer. I still like design. But it’s not a suitable topic for my column here or
my television job. So I sometimes post on social media about it.
Keeping up with and connecting with friends and family has never been easier, although I must admit that the
most valuable and meaningful social networks to me at the moment are simple text groups.
That said, social media has so much ugliness, so much envy and covetousness, so much misinformation and
manipulation, that its prominence in my life, it became clear to me, held more problems than benefits.
I have attempted to reorient myself primarily to the real world (even that feels strange to write). To write more
things that I don’t immediately share. To write for the idea and not for viral impact —things that no one may “like”
but that I still want to find a way to craft into their clearest form.
I want to share more pictures with the people I love and who love me —and not with the world, to get that world to
react. The mere act of considering the response of strangers to personal posts of pictures is perverse. But it begs
the question: If they are personal, why are you sharing them with strangers? So I have cut back on that. And I
question my intentions more when I have the urge to post.
I even believe that social media was altering my sense of people: how they looked and lived and ate. Everyone was
trying to one-up the next person. People too often looked perfect. They went on amazing vacations, lived in
immaculate homes and ate exquisite dinners. Some of those photos may well reflect reality. But like most humans,
we have our good days and our bad ones. Social media distorts that balance.
Even what is supposed to be positive can become oppressive and annoying, like the torrent of motivational memes
and affirmations. Something about it rings hollow. Something about it presents as performative.
PDF GENERATED BY PROQUEST.COM Page 1 of 3
I have been pulling back from social media for a while now, using it mostly to advertise my column, TV segments
and other ventures I’m involved in.
I must say that I feel like an addict finally getting clean.
I am surprised —and embarrassed that I am surprised —at how meaningful it is to me simply to be more present, to
strike up conversations with strangers, not to feel that I need to document my every moment for a voracious
virtualness, not to be so immersed in a screen that I miss the sunset.
I am more empathetic and diplomatic when I disagree with someone in person. Situations that I would have
breezed by online, I linger on in person. The world is not perfect. It’s not curated and filtered, and returning to the
reality that that imperfection makes the world special has caused a shift in me.
I now regret, though I try not to, years of wasted time in virtual space, doing all the things people told me I should:
worrying about engagement, timing posts for optimization, reviewing analytics to figure out which things
resonated and which didn’t.
I was continuously carving and crafting an altered, more “likable” image of myself, that in the end I deemed too
controlled to be completely true.
So, as Facebook and others move toward the metaverse, I will choose to move toward a truer version of myself,
one that lives more fully in the here and now.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this
or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: [email protected]
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and Instagram.
Subject: Social networks
Business indexing term: Subject: Social networks
Location: United States–US New York
Company / organization: Name: New York Times Co; NAICS: 511110, 511120, 515112, 515120
Identifier / keyword: Facebook Inc Social Media Empathy Zuckerberg, Mark E Computers and the Internet
Virtual Reality (Computers) Social Conditions and Trends
Publication title: New York Times (Online); New York
Publication year: 2021
Publication date: Oct 31, 2021
Publisher: New York Times Company
Place of publication: New York
Country of publication: United States, New York
Publication subject: General Interest Periodicals–United States
PDF GENERATED BY PROQUEST.COM Page 2 of 3
Check Primo for Availability
Database copyright 2021 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms and Conditions Contact ProQuest
Source type: Blog, Podcast, or Website
Language of publication: English
Document type: News
ProQuest document ID: 2589283830
Document URL: https://seattlecentral.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/blogs-
Copyright: Copyright 2021 The New York Times Company
Last updated: 2021-11-01
Database: U.S. Newsstream
PDF GENERATED BY PROQUEST.COM Page 3 of 3
- Metaverse? Are You Kidding Me?!