When Facebook started in 2004, not many individuals saw that it would become a huge social network with nearly 3 billion users. Social networks have revolutionized social relations-we can meet people across different cultural backgrounds today.
It is completely normal these days to see people lost in their phones as they scroll endlessly searching for the latest videos, trends, news, etc. I step into the bus and I instinctively grab my phone to browse through Facebook or Twitter; I’m sitting in a classroom waiting for the class to begin and I instinctively grab my phone again to browse through social media.
I have had to put my phone on silent mode and keep it far away from me several times so that I could study because one beep and I’m lost in some Twitter feed. Naturally, we are social beings so the concept of a world where we could interact easily with people we may never meet in person or voice our opinions or arguments before a wide audience is massive.
Creating an alternate universe
With the rise of social media, we are creating an alternate universe: a place where we could maintain multiple personalities and even create false identities. Some people’s sense of worth comes from their social media personalities. Despite the obvious good that social media has brought to the world, one could argue that social media has made human interactions more mechanical, and less affective.
Kids return from school and quickly grab their phones to check out the latest Instagram videos or to play an online game, mum returns from work and spends half the evening tiktoking, dad is busy arguing politics on Twitter.
As the world becomes more digitalized and centralized, there is an underlying paradox: people are becoming more alienated from their loved ones. We have created an alternate universe called social media at the risk of losing touch with the real world.
The age of the metaverse
In October 2021, Facebook launched the Metaverse. According to USA Today, the metaverse is, “a combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users "live" within a digital universe. Supporters of the metaverse envision its users working, playing, and staying connected with friends through everything from concerts and conferences to virtual trips around to the world.”
The idea of the metaverse is to live within a digital universe.
People are going to own digital assets, there will be a metaverse economy just like the real world and people are going to spend a large amount of their lives living in a digital world.
What could go wrong?
Well, expect people to be more alienated from their loved ones as they spend their lives in the metaverse. What will this mean for a generation already addicted to social media? How will this shape social interactions in the future? One thing is certain: people will become more estranged from the real world.
Some days ago, I listened to Mark Zuckerberg talk about the metaverse on Lex Friedman’s podcast. One thing that struck me was how much he is convinced that the metaverse is no different from the real world. He envisions a world where people can spend most of their time in the metaverse.
Well, the fun side is that you can go to go to work from your home, attend college from your bedroom or visit a faraway friend in a few seconds. It sounds good but we must look at the pros and cons and weigh the cost.
As social interactions are being reshaped, cultural dynamics and norms are also being altered. Can we truly find love and warmth in a world of avatars? Cana virtual world give us the feeling of the sweetness of a family dinner, the warmth of a hug from a long seen loved one, a casual stroll with a lover on a park filled with beautiful trees, the sweet lullaby of a mother to a sleepy child, the embrace of a proud father, the joy of a bride, the fragrance of home?
What are we searching for? Is it not peace? Is it not joy? We are searching for a world beyond the one we see, deep in our hearts, we yearn for another world, a perfect world. We will not find it in the luring of a virtual world, but we will only find it through Jesus Christ for he is the door to heaven and deep down in our hearts, we all long to be home, we all long for heaven.
Rume Kpadamrophe is an evangelist, writer, teacher and researcher based in Lagos, Nigeria. Rume speaks French and English and loves to travel. His desire is to see revival ignited and sustained in the nations of the world. Rume’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Rume’s previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rume-padsmrophe.html