Not the Metaverse

Not the Metaverse

In January I asked ‘will 2022 be the year that lawyers get legless in the metaverse?

I didn’t think they should. I thought then that their time would be much better spent in the real world and not the metaverse. Whilst I was writing from the viewpoint of a lawyer I really think this applies to all of humanity other, perhaps, than those who like to play, from time to time, video games. They can, of course, still do that in their existing video game worlds without really needing a new metaverse to play in.

In Real Life

As we come out of the pandemic, with lockdown restrictions lifted and a return to the ‘old normal’, people are enjoying not the metaverse, but once again the real life experiences they so much missed during almost two years of living with Covid-19 restrictions.

After several weeks (or is that months or perhaps even two years!) of, almost constant, staring at a screen for work purposes, I enjoyed a long weekend trip to London with my wife last weekend.

Not the Metaverse - KitKat Club Cabaret (exterior)

We went to the theatre (the KitKat Club at the Playhouse for Cabaret), we went to art exhibitions (Walter Sickert at Tait Britain, The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House, and Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child at the Hayward Gallery). We ate out, we went shopping and we walked miles and soaked in the atmosphere of a very busy and alive city. A city where people were actively going out and about again to work, to socialise, to shop, to see exhibitions, to go to the theatre, to dine, to drink and, in the case of some children we saw, to play in fountains.

Not the Metaverse - Fountain play

It was wonderful to see and to be part of.

Then back in Glasgow, this past week, I bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t seen since pre-pandemic (2+ years). They were going to the pub to meet another mutual friend and asked me along. I went at the spur of the moment and we had a great night catching up and reminiscing. I tweeted #notthemetaverse.

I’ve also noticed over the past few weeks a lot of similar posts on social media where people are venturing out more, travelling further afield and meeting people in real life. Everyone seems very happy to be doing so, if maybe a little bit exhausted after not being used to it!

The Metaverse Resurrection

The Metaverse Resurrection (it has been about since at least 2003 when Second Life became popular) was born out of the Zoom age (2020 to 2022 AD). In a dystopian era where we all had to stay and work in our homes. Where we could only really communicate with anyone that we did not live with through the medium of the Internet. The telephone was, of course, still available but many abandoned that in favour of Zoom. By the way, it was nice to see an old-fashioned telephone on the table at the KitKat Club and to be called on it for a chat that included a brief lesson in German.

Not the Metaverse - KitKat Club Cabaret (telephone)

It was as though this dystopia would last forever and Big Tech had to find more ways for us to interact online other than just Zoom.

In the early days of lockdown lawyers were toying with metaverse style conferences where their avatars would attend in their place (well you would of course still be operating your avatar at a screen in your home). That, thankfully, never really took off.

Then Mark Zuckerberg created Meta and moved the focus of Facebook to the metaverse. That was six months ago and some people got very excited about this brave new world despite the fact it had been done before with little real success.

Escape from Dystopia

It is clear to me, even though it was before, that as we are now escaping from the dystopia we were thrust into for two years, the last thing anybody wants to do is to have another Zoom call never mind enter the metaverse.

I thoroughly enjoyed my long weekend in the real world. Give me that any day to an imaginary virtual one. Especially when I, like many, spend so much time staring at a screen for work purposes.

In a week when the NFT and cryptocurrency markets crashed it cannot be long before we see the metaverse bubble burst too. Indeed just the other week Meta announced a freeze on hiring new staff. The metaverse won’t build itself. But perhaps the realisation is that there is little point building something that very few people actually want or will actively ever use.

I am very firmly in the ‘not the metaverse’ camp. What about you?


Not the Metaverse - Louise Bourgeois - The Woven Child - Hayward Gallery
Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child – Hayward Gallery

Image Credit: Telephone at the KitKat Club © AKA Promotions Ltd