Since Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement that Facebook is rebranding as “Meta” and focusing on developing the metaverse, people have started to pay attention (and money) to the “future of the internet” (the metaverse).
What exactly is the metaverse? How will the metaverse change the world? These are questions that this post will answer.
The Internet, Social Media, the Smartphone… What’s the Next Step?
Hate it or love it, we are now living in a world where people are moving away from physical contact with others. Through the internet and smart devices, humans are now able to accomplish almost everything at home that they previously had to go outside for.
Since even before COVID-19, this trend has been rapidly gaining momentum. YouTube, Netflix, remote work, food delivery apps, social media, online dating, video calls and e-commerce (among others) have all been allowing people to quickly and conveniently get almost everything they need (and want) from the comfort of their homes.
Almost everything in the world is done over the internet now; society would most likely completely collapse if the internet suddenly vanished one day. Just look at what happened earlier this year when Facebook went down for even just 6 hours.
So what now? For better or for worse, the next step of evolution on this journey is looking more and more likely to be the metaverse. Many hypothesize that the 2020s are going to be for the metaverse what the 1990s were for the internet.
2021 has seen the concept of the metaverse gain lightning-quick popularity, culminating with Facebook announcing that they are rebranding themselves as “Meta” and spending billions toward what Mark Zuckerberg calls “the future of the internet” (the metaverse).
Today’s world would be almost completely unrecognizable if smartphones, social media and the internet were never invented. Well, strap on your seatbelts, because now it’s the metaverse’s turn to expeditiously change reality as we know it.
But first, for those who don’t know, here’s a super-brief basic rundown of what the metaverse is:
The Metaverse in a Nutshell (The Metaverse 101)
In one sentence, the metaverse is basically like stepping inside the internet.
The Metaverse Is Immersive
Rather than watching a video, you’ll be in the video. You’ll be able to walk around to get better angles and perspectives, as well as use your hands to interact with things. Also, you’ll be able to use your voice to give commands or communicate with other people in your “vicinity”.
This is going to start to sound crazy, but Facebook (“Meta”) is actually currently working on a way where you’ll be able to interact with something in the metaverse just by thinking about it; it’s called Electromyography (EMG) technology and it’s already being utilized in the field of medicine.
Although the metaverse can still be accessed on 2D platforms such as desktop monitors and phones, it will be designed to be experienced in 3D.
In 2021, people use cumbersome virtual reality (VR) headsets that can cause motion sickness with prolonged use. However, Meta (Facebook), Google and other tech giants are working on lighter, slicker forms of VR glasses that can be used to enter the metaverse comfortably for long periods of time.
The Metaverse Has “Physical” Locations
Traditionally, when you “go” somewhere on the internet, you are greeted with a 2D website or an app’s interface.
In the metaverse on the other hand, instead of websites and apps, there are “physical” locations in the metaverse that you essentially “teleport” to. These locations could be anything from stores, meeting rooms, games rooms, socializing areas, or basically anything that anyone can imagine (and build/develop). Personally, I could see myself one day “building” a unique little Mosaic Writing stall somewhere beautiful (like a park) inside the metaverse where people could stop by to read some of my blog posts and articles.
You Exist as an Avatar in the Metaverse
Inside the metaverse, you are represented by an avatar, slightly similar to the avatars that Facebook started incorporating in 2020.
Right now, the avatars, and the entire metaverse in general, look cartoony and fake like an old video game. However, as network technology and graphics engines develop, these avatars (and the entire metaverse in general) are inevitably going to look increasingly realistic. It didn’t take long for animated films and video games to look almost identical to real life; it won’t take long for the metaverse to also look very similar to reality.
Furthermore, in the metaverse, people can make their avatar look however they want. Basically, people can express themselves and become a representation of the type of person that they envision themselves to be, or they can just simply make their avatar look just like themselves in real life. It’s even possible for someone to make their avatar into an animal, robot or anything else that a developer can think of.
You Can Own Unique Possessions in the Metaverse
People often spend real money on unique pieces of clothing and items to outfit and accessorize their avatars with.
The metaverse is based on blockchain technology, so any “possessions” that you own or create in the metaverse are entirely yours and cannot be copied or stolen. Blockchain technology ensures that different digital possessions that are sold in the metaverse can truly be one of a kind, like works of art. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies make the metaverse go round; everything is bought or sold using various types of crypto.
The Metaverse Will Incorporate Augmented Reality
In later stages, the metaverse is anticipated to eventually utilize augmented reality (AR). This is where, through AR glasses, you’ll be able to see “holograms” of the metaverse against the backdrop of the real world. Pokemon Go was one of the earliest rudimentary examples of AR technology in action.
There Are Multiple Metaverses Now, but They Will Eventually Be Linked
As of now, there are multiple different metaverses created by different companies. In the future, the goal is to link the different metaverses together so as to be able to seamlessly carry your avatar and digital assets over from one metaverse to another.
So that’s the metaverse. In 2021, on the surface it looks kind of like just a massive online multiplayer roleplaying game with dated graphics. But if that’s all it is, then why did Facebook (“Meta”), possibly the most famous corporation in the world, decide to put so many of their eggs into this basket?
There are quite a few ways hypothesized as to how the metaverse is likely to change the world in the very near future. Some of these forecasts seem like science fiction now, but so did almost every modern invention at one point.
Here are 12 ways that the metaverse will change the world in the near future:
1) The Rise of Digital “Real Estate”
Since 1985, companies and individuals have been purchasing web domains. People then build their 2D websites at the domains that they purchased. So how will the metaverse change this concept?
In the near future, companies will be (and are already) purchasing real estate in the metaverse; some real estate in the metaverse is actually being sold for millions of dollars right now. Many people buy “real estate” in the metaverse as an investment to sit on.
Buyers are basically investing in the future of that particular metaverse, like investing in a particular cryptocurrency. This can be compared to in the real world, when people buy real estate in areas and cities that they believe are going to prosper.
Just like in real life, some “landowners” will construct things on their “land“, some will rent out their land/buildings to tenants or advertisers. Many of these plots of land will sell products; some will actually have “physical” stores that people can “teleport” to and shop.
2) E-Commerce Will Merge with Brick-And-Mortar
The traditional form of shopping has always been to just walk through the door of a brick-and-mortar store and buy what you need from a physical location in the real world.
However, in the last few decades, e-commerce has risen at high velocity. Notably, in the last few years, e-commerce has absolutely exploded in popularity. During COVID-19 lockdowns especially, it’s hard to imagine not being able to purchase things online. In June 2020, online E-commerce websites worldwide experienced 22 billion visits within 30 days.
Using the conventional internet of today, you can type in any website, and be taken to a company’s online store. Conversely, you could use an app. From the website or app, you can browse through photos of their products, whether clothes, devices, appliances, food, vehicles, holidays, houses, or different types of services. Basically, almost anything that can be bought, can be bought online now. To assist you, many of these stores have a chatbox with either a basic AI, or sometimes an actual human customer service representative, on the other end of the chat.
But what if e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping became somewhat merged? That’s what’s likely to happen in the metaverse.
As a cross between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping, companies will construct their “physical” stores in the metaverse. Alternatively, they may pay developers (kind of like “construction workers”) to create their stores for them. “Real estate” in popular areas of the metaverse that get a lot of traffic (inside “marketplaces”, “malls” or “city centers”) will obviously be more expensive.
In the near future, from the comfort of your home, you will be able to enter into one of the tens of millions of different “physical” stores in the metaverse. You’ll be greeted by either a 3D AI or an actual human employee represented by their unique avatar (who will probably be adorning clothes and accessories that they themself have purchased).
From there, you’ll be able to “walk” around the store and look at displays and mannequins showing off different products. You’ll be able to demo and purchase products of all types that will be shipped to you in the real world. Alternatively, many of the products that these stores sell (clothes for your avatar, art, land, vehicles, buildings etc) will exist only as possessions in the metaverse; these could be NFTs.
3) Cryptocurrency Will Rule the Metaverse
The easiest, most convenient and cheapest way to go on an international metaverse shopping spree will be to use cryptocurrency. You can spend your crypto at whichever store you go to, regardless of which country that company is based in. With cryptocurrency, you won’t lose anything to international conversation fees or transaction fees, and most stores in the metaverse will accept all major cryptocurrencies.
Real-world geopolitical borders will be mostly irrelevant in the metaverse. You’ll be able to freely travel throughout the metaverse with your cryptocurrency wallet in tow, buying different products and services of all types with instant transactions.
Each major metaverse now has its own native cryptocurrency that’s used to purchase any and everything within that specific metaverse. As another investment opportunity, the value of each metaverse’s cryptocurrency fluctuates accordingly in relation to the popularity of that specific metaverse. The more that that metaverse grows, the more your crypto within that metaverse will be worth. This is why late 2021 has seen a surge of people trying to “get in early”.
4) Advertising Will Move Aggressively into the Metaverse
In the metaverse, expect to see a world overrun by advertising, just like the internet is today. Advertisements will be seen on buildings, streets and billboards, as well as at popular events such as premieres or concerts.
Advertisements could be for products that only exist in the real world, or for products that only exist in the metaverse.
As well, corporations will insert “physical” buildings into the metaverse that resemble their real-life buildings. The function of these will be to not only get people thinking about their products but to also have people be able to purchase products from their metaverse locations (like buying from their websites).
5) Concerts & Events with Unlimited Capacity and Unreal Special Effects
Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, Justin Beiber and Marshmello are among artists who have already performed concerts with record-breaking “attendances” in the metaverse.
In the metaverse, a performer’s avatar can be made to look larger than life. As well, during a metaverse concert, crazy stuff can happen such as being whisked up to fly through space with the performer, or having the world explode and disintegrate around you.
In the near future, advanced graphics technology and perfected virtual reality headsets complete with 9.2 surround sound (or better) will have people feeling like they are truly at a real-life concert. Not only will you be able to hear the live music crystal clear, but you’ll also be able to chat with, dance with, and sing with your friends and strangers “next to” you.
Every day there are more and more concerts, events, showings and “parties” occurring in the metaverse.
6) Turning Video Calls into Reality
In 2021, when people want to spend time with family or friends who are far away, they generally do so via video call. Video calls have been a vital way for families and friends to stay connected even when they can’t physically be together; COVID-19 lockdowns have especially demonstrated the importance of video calls.
Video calls have only been popular for about a decade and a half, but they are now an integral and normal part of most people’s lives now.
Well, in a few years the metaverse is going to make video calls seem as primitive as writing letters.
In the metaverse, there will be different 3D virtual areas where you can meet with your family and friends. In not too long, the technology will be at a point where it won’t even seem too different from meeting in person. In fact, it may even be more interesting than meeting in person as the imagination is the limit as to what these areas can be designed to look like. Furthermore, you’ll be able to summon a variety of different interactive objects and games in these rooms, such as a chess table, a musical instrument or a deck of cards.
Perhaps a father is working in another country for a year. Each evening, he could still spend time together chatting “face to face” with his partner and playing games with his children. The entire family may even have purchased their own house in the metaverse, where they “live” together in the evenings, even while being halfway across the globe in the real world.
Another example, friends dispersed around the world could play drinking games together while having a pool (billiards) tournament, all while jointly listening to some tunes in surround sound. If you possess your own house in the metaverse, you could invite your buddies over to your place for drinks. Of course, each person would need to actually be drinking real alcohol from their real home. Would that count as drinking alone?
7) “Going Out” and “Dining Out” without Leaving Your Home
In addition to private areas where people can meet, the metaverse will have plenty of different public nightclubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, beautiful “natural” areas and surreal areas where you can meet strangers or “hang out” with friends and family, even if they are in another city in real life.
If the metaverse is already sounding farfetched to you, then get ready for this. Some of the restaurants in the metaverse will actually be connected to food delivery services. You’ll go to the restaurant’s location in the metaverse, “walk” in, look at the 3D menu, choose what you want to order, pay for it (most likely in crypto) and then an actual delivery service provider will bring you what you’ve ordered straight to your real-life door.
You’ll be able to “dine out” with friends, family and business partners without needing to actually meet in real life (as perhaps meeting in real-life is not feasible due to location or circumstances).
Furthermore, the metaverse is full of different games that you can play with others, like an infinitely massive arcade.
“The Sandbox” metaverse actually provides users with tools to create their own games from scratch. In fact, if enough people play someone’s game then the creator of that game will earn crypto.
As well as a near-limitless amount of unique types of immersive games created by developers, there will be traditional social games such as golf, bowling, chess, pool (billiards) etc throughout the metaverse. Additionally, expect to see cinemas boasting film premieres in the metaverse, just as you would see in the real world.
8) Most Business Meetings Will Occur in the Metaverse
COVID-19 saw a transition in work culture that is unlikely to fully swing back to how it was before. Online meetings have become the new norm as many people have now realized the non-necessity of meeting in person for their jobs.
Overnight, video conferences became the go-to route for most business meetings.
However, Bill Gates ambitiously predicts that within just 2-3 years’ time, most business meetings will be held in the metaverse.
In today’s globalized world, business meetings in the metaverse will be essential. An American company and a Japanese company are going through a merger? Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars in travel and accommodation fees, everything can be done while “sitting face to face” inside the metaverse.
In 2021, business meetings in the metaverse currently consist of people (as their avatars) sitting around a table discussing ideas. Slide show presentations can be shown on a big screen at the front of the room. Furthermore, there is a whiteboard with infinite space that can be utilized, and then the contents can be easily saved.
In the near future, you’ll be able to have your metaverse business meetings in pleasant natural environments of your choice. Hypothetically, you could even have your meetings on top of the Eiffel Tower, on another planet or at the bottom of the ocean if you really wanted to. If you have a big client, then maybe you’ll want to find out what kind of person they are so that you can woo them with their favorite type of environment.
Meta (Facebook) is currently working on an affordable VR headset (codenamed Project Cambria) that will allow users to maintain eye contact and convey facial expressions in the metaverse. As 70-93% of communication is nonverbal, the continued development of better facial recognition (and even posture recognition) technology will continue to improve communication in the metaverse.
This will help create smoother, more effective interactions not only during business meetings but also while socializing with family/friends, educating, learning or determining what type of person a stranger is.
You’ll be able to look around at, and make eye contact with, each of your colleagues. People will be able to deduce from the expression on your face what you think about the idea that they are proposing. As you turn your head, you’ll be able to hear people’s voices coming from different angles relative to where they are sitting in the room.
9) Education Will Take Place in Classrooms inside the Metaverse
In the last decade, the e-learning industry has exponentially skyrocketed. In 2020, the global e-learning market actually passed $250 billion. In 2021, most e-learning is done through video calls and interactive slide shows. Major e-learning companies, such as VIPKid (who I spent 3.5 years teaching for), design the material in a way so that learning is kind of like an engaging video game for students. As innovative as this is now, e-learning via video calls will soon be seen as old technology, just a technological stepping stone toward the metaverse.
In the near future, classrooms in the metaverse will be able to provide almost everything that a classroom in real life can provide, and more. Slide show presentations or videos will be up on a board at the front of the room. Students will be able to use their hands to write notes with virtual pens, or they’ll be able to use virtual keyboards they can type notes on. They’ll be able to raise their hands and ask questions. Teachers may even ask a student to walk to the front of the class to write something on the board. Furthermore, students will still be able to break up for partner work or group work with other students around them.
How about “field trips” to another location in the metaverse?
10) Up-Close, Immersive Learning like Never Before Seen
In the metaverse, to learn about something, you’ll actually be able to get up close and personal to what you want to learn about, like in a living museum.
You’ll be able to read different facts about planets as you orbit around them, examine life-sized representations of dinosaurs, walk the streets of ancient Rome or do anything else that someone can imagine and develop. Rather than people developing informative websites for you to read or watch, people will be developing immersive worlds for you to step into.
11) Instantly Travel the World inside the Metaverse
When I typed “travel to the pyramids” into Google just now, this was the first website on the list:
That’s a pretty decent photo, it helps me get a bit of an understanding of what it would feel like to actually be there. But what if I were to be actually walking around inside that photo?
The metaverse will enable it so that developers can construct a realistic interactive representation of anywhere on (or off) Earth. You’ll be able to walk around different landmarks and experience 3D 360° views like you’re actually standing there in real life.
Certainly, using the metaverse to “travel” to a rendition of a famous place in the world won’t be exactly the same as experiencing that place in person. However, in the metaverse, you’ll be able to “travel” to all of the wonders of the world within an afternoon, safely participate in death-defying extreme activities and instantly “teleport” to anywhere famous that you can think of, all without having to spend any of your savings or deal with discomforts/dangers.
12) On-The-Job Training inside the Metaverse
For decades, pilots and astronauts have been training using virtual simulators, as simulators are obviously much cheaper and safer than training through real situations.
With the development of various true-to-life simulations in the metaverse, employees of most hands-on industries (especially industries involving heavy machinery and many different complex pieces of equipment) will be able to benefit immensely from training in the metaverse.
If realistic enough simulations are developed, then the metaverse has the potential to safely, cheaply and easily provide people with firsthand “on-the-job” training, including situations involving emergencies.
Furthermore, new employees and members of the same teams would all be training together, even while in their individual homes.
Almost all types of jobs could benefit from training in the metaverse. However, this type of experiential training could especially be beneficial for industrial workers, construction workers, medical workers, police, firefighters, pilots, or any other profession that is liable to be exposed to dangerous situations.
The Metaverse Is Still in Its Ugly Infancy
The metaverse is still in its infancy, hence how aesthetically basic it currently looks. However, it doesn’t take too much of an imagination to foresee the future applications of the metaverse, especially once new VR, AR, network and graphics tech renders the metaverse looking near-identical to real life.
Just like the internet was unrecognizably elementary in the 90s, the metaverse is also still barebones and unpolished. In the 90s, not many people could’ve predicted how completely entwined with the internet our lives would eventually become. It may be wise to keep that in mind as we begin to witness this next stage of evolution.
Throughout this post, I didn’t mention any of the potential issues the metaverse could create for our world. It should be acknowledged that there are a few different potentially civilization-threatening problems that the metaverse could bring to humanity. For an alternative perspective discussing some of the possible dystopian problems that the metaverse could cause, check out this article below:
Whether it brings us closer to a utopia or a dystopia, the metaverse is almost certainly going to cause mind-boggling changes to our world. The future is science fiction, and the future is already here today.
This post was originally written on December 23, 2021.
So what do you think?
Are there any other ways that the metaverse is set to change our world?
What do you think our world will look like in 2030? How about in just 2025?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.