Sunday, August 14

The boundaries of sex and death in the metaverse


The metaverse is an imaginary world traversed by the logic of speed, of infinite acceleration. The scenes Stephenson gives us in the novel that coined the concept are marked by speed. The protagonist is periodically revving his machine.

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There is no doubt that during the year just ended, the metaverse has reached a significant cruising speed. Above all, it accelerated since Zuckerberg pointed at it with his index finger in a scene of chimneys taken from the paintings of El Bosco. The sociologist Harmut Rosa defines this civilizational moment as that of acceleration and the metaverse has jumped on this bandwagon. A chariot that, as the philosopher Paul Virilio pointed out more than a quarter of a century ago, is fundamentally a war chariot. For now, the acceleration in the metaverse is driven by competition, between brands and companies, to arrive as soon as possible and get the best “lands” and positions. Among consumers, for showing off the most sought-after NFTs.

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Sex in the metaverse

The metaverse with which 2021 has ended is characterized by the lights of the holidays and that kind of city under immediate construction, like the exit of a magic wand. It is the one of the public presentations and the parties and the one of the competitive games. It’s a coming and going of avatars with wings and t-rex heads.

What is spreading now, especially pushed by the pandemic moment, are the reunions in the metaverse. It is still an extension of the festivities; but in a productive plan. Well, an important part of the parties themselves also have that productive character, celebrating things like: inauguration of a space in the metaverse itself, presentation of a brand, launch of a new company or a product. It will surely deepen in this productive sense. How? If, to answer this question, we remain at the core of the logic that has pushed Facebook so far, now so interested in the metaverse, we would have to point out that the metaverse would be the next step in the attention economy.

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That is, they will begin to offer functional services and, at the same time, free or relatively inexpensive for users, in order to record what they do and what they want. But this would be in the supposedly centralized metaverse of the new Meta, the direct heir to FB. The alternative is the decentralized metaverses, where, for the moment, companies – even financial ones – are inclined if they do not want to be subordinated to Zuckebergian centralization. Will Meta or similar potential metaverses offer you such service offerings that will lead you to accept its metaverse?

The institutionalization of metaverses

Another line of development that seems immediate is the institutionalization of metaverses. By this we mean that progressively institutions – from states to institutes – will progressively be in the metaverse. In many cases, driven only by the fact of having to occupy your site. Have your profile in the metaverse, as they have it in social media accounts. Being will create the activities, surely linked to what they do in real life. Services that, in turn, will increase the collective appeal of being in the metaverse. The institutional snowball can be very important.

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There are borders that could be crossed during this year that has just begun. The Internet broke through very soon. One of them is sex. At the moment, there is no sex in the metaverse. But there is also nothing to prevent it. A few days ago, the media echoed a sexual harassment in the metaverse. In such cases, what institution will intervene, especially if it is about decentralized metaverses?

The other frontier is death. On the internet, terrorist groups – and states – made public the executions of the hostages. This does not seem to have a place in the current conformations of the metaverse. But, a little less outrageous, but just as dramatic, what will happen to the avatars of people who have passed away? Will they still be there, even if it is without movement? Will there be a maximum freeze period in the metaverse, after which the avatar will be removed?

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