Why the Metaverse Is Not All That

negative effects of the metaverse
67.4k Shares

The Metaverse is an online virtual reality space. It’s a place you can travel to through your VR headset and experience with your avatar. It is a space where communication and collaboration can be accelerated at incredible rates. 

You could hold a meeting of your work team in the Metaverse with active 3D modeling of your next project or host a college-level anatomy and physiology class with working DNA sequencing visible through VR.

These advancements and the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies have tantalized companies, and individuals left and right. From Budweiser to Disney, digital real estate on different Metaverse platforms is being scooped up to create more engagement in the online world. 

The problem is that what if this space is not all it is cracked up to be? A recent study has demonstrated adaptive health concerns to integrating the Metaverse into our daily lives.

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is a collective virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash.

In his book, Stephenson describes it as a three-dimensional space that can be accessed from any computer or device with network connectivity. In this world, there are no laws or limits to what can happen aside from those imposed by the people who inhabit it. It has no geography but exists somewhere outside our universe (and beyond).

The Metaverse is a virtual reality world where you can do anything you want to do. You can be whoever you want and make friends with people worldwide. It’s also a place where there are no consequences for your actions. For example, if you shoot someone in the Metaverse, it won’t hurt them because they’re just a computer program like yourself.

That’s why the Metaverse is so popular. It allows us to escape our real-life problems by living out our wildest fantasies in this virtual universe. It can solve many issues around access to ideas and technology by integrating them into our lives through VR headsets.

Are there adverse effects of the Metaverse?

Yes. There are many. The Metaverse is a new technology, and it’s not yet ready for mass adoption. There are many concerns, but these should be addressed before we can expect a safe environment for everyone to enjoy in this virtual world.

recent study by several European institutions, including Coburg University in Germany and Cambridge University in the U.K., compared the experiences of 16 different participants as they used the Metaverse for a 35-hour workweek. What they uncovered was a drastic result in productivity and a massive jump in anxiety.

Without the precise boundaries of the physical world, these participants viewed their job experiences as growing workloads relative to what an average workweek would hold. This was mixed with frustration that they could not complete their assigned work in the usual timeframes because of so many distractions in the Metaverse. Then, there was the added issue of cybersickness.

negative effects of the metaverse

What is cybersickness?

Cybersickness is a form of motion sickness that can occur in VR. It is caused by conflicting sensory signals, which causes the brain to become confused and uneasy. While it’s not dangerous, cybersickness can be unpleasant and challenging to deal with while you’re experiencing it.

Cybersickness isn’t caused by movement—it’s more like your brain getting mixed signals from your eyes and inner ear (which registers motion) while you’re sitting in place. This confusion leads to feelings of nausea and disorientation like you might get when riding on a boat or plane for an extended period.

This study on the Metaverse was not done with the most comfortable VR technology on the market but with what was affordable for a college experiment. They concluded that the need for more bespoke tools further to study the effects of the Metaverse on workers would require an investment of roughly $3,000 per workstation.

Other Concerns of the Metaverse

When you enter the Metaverse, it can be easy to forget that your actions are no longer your responsibility—they also affect others. You may be able to escape these consequences by removing yourself from virtual reality, but once you do, you’ll find yourself back in our natural world, where we all share this responsibility.

This has created growing concerns for problems like:

Privacy

Privacy is a hot topic when it comes to the Metaverse. Most people know that they need to be careful with their privacy. Still, many don’t realize how much of a risk they’re taking by using apps and virtual realities that allow users to share their data with advertisers and other third parties without their consent.

Child Safety

It’s no secret that the Metaverse is rife with adult content. The most popular virtual games and apps are full of sexually suggestive characters and themes, while many VR porn sites have sprung up on the web since the Metaverse’s launch. While it’s easy to forget when stuck in your own virtual world, kids who play these games or apps will be exposed to adult content whether they want to.

Access Inequality

The Metaverse is not accessible to everyone. It is not just a gaming experience. It’s an escape from reality and a permanent vacation within your mind. But what happens when you can’t afford to play?

This might seem minor compared to all the other negatives listed here. However, access inequality is one of those issues where everyone loses out. If you cannot afford to play or suffer from a disability that prevents using VR systems, you will be left behind compared to other users.

The Future of the Metaverse

negative effects of the metaverse

The Metaverse is not ready for mainstream adoption. The technology is not ready yet, and backbreaking work on security and regulation must be done before it becomes mainstream. While this may not be the most popular opinion for all early adopters of blockchain-based technology, the sad reality is that this will be a significant societal shift requiring patience and progressive steps.

There is a good chance we will send our children to school through VR headsets and learn how to play musical instruments or go on first dates inside the Metaverse. That kind of societal integration requires much closer scrutiny to avoid potential risks that may, as of right now, still be hard to perceive.

The Metaverse is a fascinating new technology with much potential. But like any new technology, it has its own challenges that must be addressed before it becomes mainstream. The first step toward making the Metaverse more secure is understanding how it may be exploited and doing our best to adapt our brains and understanding of the technology through the open sharing of concepts and knowledge. Hopefully, the Metaverse will be viewed as a powerful new tool, not a potential risk.

Ethel Emmons

Ethel Emmons writes about technology, business, lifestyle, and entrepreneurship. Originally born and raised in the Philippines, she took on a very challenging journey on her own to migrate to the USA in her early 20s. She started as a software engineer and a product program manager at major Silicon Valley big-tech and start-ups. She was a 3-time expat who worked and lived in The Hague and London as a global technology executive for an oil major in the most recent six years. She traveled to 38 countries for work and cultural pursuits. She follows Formula One and enjoys her two Maltese puppies, Nemo and Benji. She is the founder and CEO of The Glam Daily and Skin Beautiful Organics.