If you have spent any time on the Internet lately, you may have heard about the “Metaverse.”
But what is it exactly and what should you know about it?
Well we’ve got you covered.
This is a guide covering everything you need to know about the Metaverse.
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a shared 3D virtual world in which you can socialize, collaborate, learn, and play.
When discussing the metaverse, it is important to make a distinction between “a metaverse” and “The Metaverse.”
The distinction has to do with control.
A metaverse can be created by any organization whose goal is to create this 3D virtual environment/world.
Think of it as social media. There aren’t one social media, but many. In fact, did you know that there are over 100 social networking/media sites?
A similar holds true for metaverses.
When it comes to metaverses, some argue that they already exist, with examples being seen within popular video games such as Minecraft, Roblox, or even Fortnite — where they even had an in-game concert featuring Travis Scott:
Now when we talk about The Metaverse, we are talking about a single organization controlling this digital universe.
If you’ve ever seen Ready Player One, it sounds pretty similar to that.
Tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft are trying to be the ones who are known for creating The Metaverse. (Check out Microsoft’s Metaverse video.)
The goal of every business is to become a monopoly anyhow right? Until you actually do and people get mad and the government goes after you…
But I digress.
There has been a significant rise in searches for “metaverse” after Facebook’s Connect Keynote 2021 presentation where Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, shared his vision of the metaverse, along with their parent company’s name change to Meta (we’ll dive into that more later).
The term “metaverse” is actually claimed to have been coined by Neal Stephenson 30 years ago in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash.”
Neal states what’s being built is different from The Metaverse within “Snow Crash” in a few important ways — particularly with the revenue model.
So while the “metaverse” is not a new term, it has gained new light.
Why is it Called the Metaverse?
We now know what the metaverse is, but why is it called the metaverse and not something else?
In other words, why did they choose that name?
Well, there are two possible answers to this question.
1. They Liked the Name
As mentioned earlier, the term “metaverse” claims to have been coined by Stephenson 30 years ago in his book.
It is possible that the team and higher-ups within the company were aware of this term and just liked it, simple as that.
2. Literal Meaning
If we want to dive into it and really dissect it, we can analyze both parts of the word — ‘meta’ and ‘verse.’
‘Meta’ comes from the Greek prefix and preposition meta, which means “after” or “beyond.”
When combined with words in English, meta- often signifies “change” or “alteration” as in the words metamorphic or metabolic. (Source)
‘Verse’ comes from vertere, Latin, which means ‘to turn’ (Source). Or you can also replace ‘turn’ with ‘cycle.’
So when we think “universe” you can think of one cycle (oddly enough) or “omniverse,” all the cycles.
So when we combine the two and end up with “metaverse,” we can see that a definition would be similar to what we understand of a “universe,” except it would be a universe that is “changed” or “beyond” the current scope of our current universe.
Looking at it that way, it makes sense and seems to be an appropriate name given that the metaverse that is described, is a 3D virtual society that one could essentially live and play in.
Metaverse vs. Multiverse
You may be wondering what is the difference between a metaverse and a multiverse.
A multiverse is a theoretical reality that includes a possibly infinite number of parallel universes. (Source)
Based on what we’ve already learned about the metaverse described by the tech industry, this term does not seem to align as well as “metaverse” — based on the vision and plan that is being laid out.
Why Did Facebook Change to Meta
Facebook is now known as Meta, but why the change?
Changing the name of a business, especially one that is a household name, is a pretty big decision.
So why do businesses change their name — and specifically, why did Facebook decide to change their name to Meta?
1. Change in Business Model
One reason businesses change their names is that they have a change in their business model.
For example, let’s say a company sells apples and they are named Ted’s Apple Company. Well, let’s say Ted is crushing it in the apple business.
He is doing so well that he gets an opportunity to also start selling oranges and dominate that market. Can you see the problem with the name now?
Speaking of apples, a real-life example can be seen with Apple.
The company that has brought the Mac and iPhone to our beloved homes (I’m not talking to the green bubblers in the room).
Apple used to be called Apple Computers until they started selling iPhones.
In order to accommodate the change in their business model and offerings, a proper name change was needed.
In the case of Facebook, the company now owns other companies such as Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, and Oculus.
As stated in Zuckerberg’s keynote, now that they own all of these companies that deal with social connections, it was time for them to be known for something bigger and more representative of all their companies.
I think the name change was also a move to set them up in terms of branding — so every time you hear conversations about a metaverse, you will think of Meta.
To add another example, a similar move was made by Google when they decided to change their parent company name to Alphabet, to better represent all the companies under their portfolio such as YouTube, Waze, Fitbit, Next, Looker, etc.
2. Negative Brand Image
The second reason businesses change their name is to get away from bad publicity and reframe their corporate image and positioning in the minds of the public/their target audience.
An example of this can be seen with Time Warner Cable when they were rebranded to Spectrum.
Many consumers felt that Time Warner Cable was not providing optimal service and their reputation was dropping.
Right as Charter Communications bought them in 2016, they rebranded the name to Spectrum.
Another example can be seen with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Being more health-conscious as a society, most know that fried chicken is not the healthiest.
Well to get away from this, Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranded to just KFC.
It’s a simple name change but now every time you say that name, you aren’t saying that forbidden, high-calorie word that could make you feel guilty just by saying it.
Well, in the case of Facebook, it seems it was the opportune time to change public perception about their company and hopefully have a sort of “reset” on their brand image and what they stand for.
Facebook has been in the hot seat for a while now with events ranging from their misinformation challenge to their latest whistleblower leak — which showed Facebook knows their products are harmful to children, sows division, and undermines democracy in pursuit of profits.
Given Facebook’s history of these events, an apology and a slap on the wrist may not be enough.
Facebook needed to change its public perception and distance itself from those events.
While we know that Meta is Facebook, the name change is a psychological one that can have an effect on your perception whether you know it or not.
And in a few years, if you keep hearing Meta, Meta, Meta, you may start to forget all those events that were associated with “Facebook.”
How Can You Get Into the Metaverse?
We’ve discussed what the metaverse is, so how can/will you be able to get into it?
Since the metaverse is a 3D virtual space, you will need to possess an item that lets you access virtual or augmented reality, such as a headset.
There are currently many VR headsets out in the market today such as the Valve Index, HTC Vive, and the Oculus Quest.
While there are many enthusiasts who enjoy these headsets, the majority of headset owners use them for their gaming interests.
In order for The Metaverse to truly come into fruition, tech companies will need to market VR and AR (augmented reality) technology and find ways to promote it to the mass population of individuals who do not particularly care for “gaming.”
In the future, there may also be glasses that let you step into this virtual world.
And while VR headsets currently exist and are improving each year, I believe we are still in the early adoption phase of VR headsets.
Many individuals do not own a VR headset possibly due to price or just lack of interest.
Bringing the “full” metaverse to life will be a major challenge in terms of market demand and technology.
Early efforts of a proof-of-concept with the metaverse can be seen with VRChat, Horizon Worlds, and Horizon Workplaces.
But these current examples are far from the Metaverse that is envisioned by Meta and other tech companies.
John Carmack, CTO of Oculus, pointed out that there is a big difference between having 16 avatars in a room together in a meeting versus creating a VR metaverse where users can “mill about” and wander in and out of virtual rooms — similar to how we can act in the real world.
Why is the Metaverse Being Created?
The goal of the metaverse and why it is being created is to bring about the next evolution of social connection.
Where users can interact, engage, and socialize with one another in a 3D space.
Technological progress is increasing exponentially.
It seems that the scenes and stories we have seen in Sci-Fi movies of artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, robots, space travel, and virtual worlds are getting closer to becoming reality each year.
It was inevitable that we would start having the conversation of 3D virtual worlds.
With that being said, what exactly will you be able to do in the metaverse?
What Can You Do in the Metaverse?
How the Metaverse Will Change Social Connections
From the keynote, the Metaverse will change social connections by creating embodied experiences, opposed to just viewing them from a screen.
For example, let’s say it’s your dad’s birthday and you are across the country from him.
Well instead of possibly Facetiming or Zooming him, only seeing him from a limited screen, you will be able to hop into a 3D virtual space together.
The goal is to have a more vivid social experience that you can’t experience with a screen.
How the Metaverse Will Change Entertainment
Similar to social connections, the Metaverse will change how we experience entertainment.
For example, let’s say you want to visit a concert with your friend. You can hop into the metaverse and be instantly transported to the concert.
Sounds pretty similar to what Fortnite did with the Travis Scott concert, except now you will be in a 3D environment.
When it comes to gaming, VR is already popular among the gaming community. Does anybody say Ready Player One?
Gaming will only become more engaging and immersive with the Metaverse. Being able to hop into 3D virtual games with friends will only be the bare minimum.
Advancements in VR such as haptic suits, omnidirectional treadmills, and other VR accessories will only continue to advance the immersive capabilities of VR gaming.
How the Metaverse Will Change Exercise
Exercise will also become revolutionized with the Metaverse.
VR headsets already have excellent exercise games such as Supernatural, FitXR, Thrill of the Fight, and more.
Due to the pandemic, many have adapted to an “at-home lifestyle,” including home fitness routines.
With new equipment, companies, and technology promoting an at-home fitness lifestyle such as Peloton and the Mirror, exercising in the Metaverse may become the norm for some.
Speaking of “at-home lifestyles,” let’s discuss how the Metaverse will change how we work.
How the Metaverse Will Change Work
The adaptability of humans is pretty incredible. It seems as if overnight, millions had to adapt to a work-from-home environment — at least, those lucky enough to.
While the pandemic certainly forced this shift, it doesn’t seem like working from home and “remote culture” is just a trend only reserved for digital nomads — it is now an integral part of the everyday workforce.
While some like going into the office, many reports that they like having the flexibility to work from home and it has been shown that around 62% of employees aged 22 to 65 say they work remotely at least occasionally. (Owl Labs)
Some offices have even resorted to full-time work from a home culture with 16% of companies globally going fully remote. (Owl Labs)
This shift in work culture means everyday moments that would occur in an office such as meetings, water cooler chit-chat, lunch with coworkers, etc. are being replaced with Slack channels and Zoom meetings.
While I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying it’s different.
With these social moments occurring digitally on a screen, the only next possible evolution is to create these moments digitally, but in a 3D environment.
Enter the Metaverse.
The Metaverse has hopes of being the virtual environment for these social moments.
Have a meeting? Put on a VR headset or AR glasses and you will be transported to a virtual office where you are looking across at your colleagues with your hands crossed on a virtual table. All without leaving the comfort of your home.
Zoom meetings are great, but sometimes nonverbals can get lost in translation in a video meeting (especially if someone doesn’t have their camera on).
Perhaps the Metaverse can serve as another alternative to showing up to a business meeting in your pajamas. Hopefully, you have fast internet access though, I can already picture viral videos of people’s avatars “lagging” out during an important business meeting.
On the topic of business, let’s talk about commerce, and how it will change in the Metaverse.
How the Metaverse Will Change Commerce
Commerce is the act of buying and selling.
When buying an item, you usually give an item of value to the seller in exchange for the item they are selling.
It could be another item of equal worth (like a bartering system), or a form of currency in an amount equal to the subjective value of the item (often dictated by supply and demand).
Being a virtual 3D world, if you were to want to buy an item that you could use in this virtual world, then you will most likely be using another virtual item of equal worth (such as an NFT) or a digital currency such as the numerous cryptocurrencies that now exist.
You might be thinking, that’s silly, paying for a fake item with fake money.
While there is some truth to that, value is often subjective and just dictated by supply and demand.
Take the dollar, for example, we have one-dollar bills, five-dollar bills, twenty-dollar bills, etc.
But they are all just pieces of paper with no inherent value in them. We as a society have decided to put a monetary value on them.
So while I am no economist or cryptocurrency expert, if enough people were to wake up one day and say “this digital currency is now valuable” then I guess it would be valuable.
Of course, there will be some pushback, but you get the point.
The Metaverse will bring further rise to this discussion.
When Will the Metaverse Arrive?
While the concept of the Metaverse is a rather large one, there are no promises of it launching anytime soon.
Zuckerberg has estimated that it will take around 10 years for the Metaverse to arrive.
How the Metaverse Can Change the World
Now that we’ve covered all there is to know about the Metaverse, let’s dive into how it can change the world — either for the better or for worse.
While this section is purely opinionated, I have taken time to think about this proposed virtual world and think deeply about the good and the harm it can bring to the world.
I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with any of my points of view in the comments section below!
Pros of the Metaverse
The biggest “pro” I see of the Metaverse is the ability to connect with those you love on a more intimate level.
Good things like human connection
Picture this, you live on the other side of the country from your parents due to work.
You ache to see them but you have to stay in your new place of residence for an extended period of time.
A call or video chat might suffice, but imagine putting on a VR headset and being instantly transported to your childhood home.
In this house are your parents who are also in this virtual world. You see them, they see you, and you embrace one another while being thousands of miles apart.
If haptic suits are around at this time, perhaps you can even feel the physical touch.
While a virtual world does sound a bit intimidating, I want to believe this new virtual world will allow for positive, intimate moments such as this.
Cons of the Metaverse
On the flip side, let’s discuss a con of the Metaverse. Perception and reality.
Perception is Reality
As mentioned, I believe the Metaverse will allow for closer, more intimate reactions with those you care about.
But what if this new reality is better than the one you currently live in?
It will be so easy to be transported to any place in the world, you may have better clothes in this digital world, you may even be better looking — what if you don’t want to leave this digital world?
They say perception is reality.
If there now exist two worlds, who is to say which one you should choose to live in?
We hope you enjoyed this guide to the Metaverse.
While I am excited to see this project unfold over the years, I am also a bit anxious.
I don’t want to get caught up in the science fiction theories, but many have even raised the theory that life is possibly a simulation.
We have seen tremendous growth in such a short amount of time in terms of technology.
Not too long ago, we didn’t even have cell phones, now we’re talking about virtual worlds?
If we continue to advance at such a rapid pace, who knows what the future holds — maybe when it’s our time to go, the VR headset just comes off.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.