Virtuality is no placement for reality. Here, recall the ending of part 3 and how people will stay on the Metaverse longer. First, younger generations will lead the increase in usage. Similarly how younger generations use the internet and tech more for hours on end while older generations use it less. This prediction makes sense as younger individuals grew up with tech while older generations aren’t used to using the tech for so long.
Eventually, the older generations die out and more of the population uses the Metaverse at higher rates; thus long-term usage becomes the norm. In that time, society will go into what I call phase 1, partial conversion.
During phase 1, as the title implies, society will partially be converted. The Metaverse will be a sort of “second reality/life” and a tool among many other use cases. Expect the streets to be less crowded and the environment to possibly improve. Improvement is because humans are inside more often, so transportation use will decrease. Then if conversion increases, which may not happen (hopefully), society can reach a point in which the majority if not a super-majority of environments will be converted and enter phase 2.
During this phase, usage has increased so far as it is not common to see a single living soul walking outside.* Most tasks are done in the Metaverse; while in real life, robots and some humans will exist to maintain things. The rise of automation has already started now, and by then I suspect society will be mostly automated. Necessary facilities are maintained like food, waste, servers, and electricity.
*Note: Not all countries and societies will even reach this point, 3rd world countries especially.
On to the next topic, and the most negative one, the consequences of usage of the Metaverse. Although the Metaverse allows people to be more connected since they can interact across the world. People will feel lonely, isolated, and depressed. This conjecture is based on our current state with technology and loneliness. We are currently the most hyperconnected societies in history and ironically the most lonely. Covid-19 has already proved isolation inside with only the internet as a connection to the world makes us depressed, and so will the Metaverse.
Furthermore, the Metaverse’s core concept is escapism. So naturally, the Metaverse is a way of escape from reality, similar to how the internet in general— youtube, video games, substances, etc— are used. After all, many individuals have unhappy lives because they’re vulnerable, sad, lonely, or weak. And when given the option to live in real life or virtual reality, a reality in which you can be anything you want to be, it would be understandable why people would choose the latter.
Ironically escaping through the Metaverse will only cause more isolation and stress. What do people do when they’re stressed? They use a form of escape like the Metaverse and the cycle repeats. Also, it’s perfectly normal to escape and destress occasionally. However, excess escapism and avoiding problems will only make them worse.
In addition, using the Metaverse inherently means you're staying inside. Further worsening the problem of staying inside and constantly staring at screens. Personally, I’m tired of this issue. It seems increasingly rare nowadays just to go outside, chill with someone and simply have a conversation, and Metaverse usage can only worsen this issue. And with the sheer amount of people “leaving real life,” the Metaverse will further isolate individuals and make them depressed.
As a result, we get a society that normalizes extreme mass isolation and staying inside for days on end. We have built our own Matrix and voluntarily are staying inside it. Is this the world we want? And finally, how can we make sure this worst-case scenario doesn’t happen?