Trapped in the Metaverse

When Reality Itself Becomes a Marketable Product

The metaverse is being advertised as a technology that allows users to create their own realities. However, it will also allow the behavioral modification techniques currently used in social media to become far more effective, which may lead to what the father of virtual reality, Jaron Lanier, calls “the ultimate Skinner box.”

Current Affairs
Current Affairs
Trapped in the Metaverse

Boyd Collins has thirty years of experience building web applications and is the author of numerous articles on how to free ourselves from social media addiction. He will describe the metaverse and the type of human being it is designed to produce. The tech giants are spending many billions on the transition from social media to the embodied internet, an interoperable network of 3D virtual worlds that can be customized according to user requirements. However, as with social media, it is not the platform, but the user, that is the product. The platform reduces the human being to a collection of psychological drives and removes the “I”, the “authentic self” from its center. In the metaverse, the inner self is treated as a neurological illusion which can be manipulated in order to drive user engagement.

11 comments on “Trapped in the Metaverse

  1. Rodrigo Gomes says:

    Good morning.
    I watched the lecture and I would like to know if the video is going to be available for download?

    1. Frank Dauenhauer says:

      Hi Rodrigo, thank you so much for joining us for this talk, it was a pleasure having you. To your question, the talk is not downloadable but you are welcome to link others to this page.
      Frank 🙂

  2. Maureen Havas-D’Andrea says:

    Excellent , informative talk and presentation. Great questions and answers too. Many thanks. I look forward to next time.

  3. Charlie George Robinson says:

    Could the Metaverse be a possible path to the development of imagination?

    1. Boyd Collins says:

      Actually, I see the metaverse as what anthroposophist Robert Sardello refers to as “counter-creation.” By this, he means a way of experiencing the world that negates the imagination which Rudolf Steiner provided so many means of developing. The idea of counter-creation is that media such as TV, movies, and VR tend to reduce our imaginative capacity. Why? Because it substitutes external images for internal effort. Instead of arousing the capacity to create inner images while, for instance, reading a fantasy novel, VR provides fully rendered images for consumption. These images don’t inspire us to create similar images, but encourage us to be satisfied with the ones we are provided with. Over time, it tends to discourage us from creating our own images because they seem inferior to those available in movies and video games.
      Sardello puts it this way, “Counter-creation occurs whenever sensations produced by a mediating medium between the body and the world produce effects that confuse the sensations usually brought about by an immediate bodily presence to the world.” This mediation tends to degrade imagination, not enhance it.

    2. Boyd Collins says:

      Imitation is the opposite of imagination – it tends to kill it rather than inspire it.

  4. Gia Bibileishvili says:

    How to protect ourselves from the dangerous influences of this technology. Should we get rid of it altogether or should still register and use it moderately? If it is planned to have such a wide application, staying outside it might marginalize individual from social mainstream. Will it be possible to keep the balance?

    1. Boyd Collins says:

      As with so many such temptations, the cure is consciousness. Contrary to the impression I might have given, I think VR can be used rightly as an artistic medium and in many other positive ways. The metaverse, however, as I tried to emphasize is not VR. The metaverse is a social and economic operation that uses social media and soon VR to extract revenue by marketing its users to advertisers. If you can consciously resist their agenda, then you can successfully use social media as I do. But you have to consciously monitor yourself so that you don’t fall into using it to kill time. Read Cal Newport’s excellent book Digital Minimalism for ideas on how to recapture your life from social media.

      1. Gia Bibileishvili says:

        Thanks Boyd. Indeed it is already difficult to control the time spent on social media. One easily becomes addicted to it. And such time on entertainment and mostly useless conversations is waisted and keeps one away from spiritual development through reading or other meaningful activities. I will definitely check recommended book by Cal Newport.

  5. Maverick (Les Bonham) says:

    Thanks for providing the recordings of these informative talks. I picked up some important points that I missed while viewing the initial presentation. Many of us are enjoying the Zoom/Google Meet platforms as a means to interact with others, even on some spiritual subjects. In these online groups, our intent is to know ourselves better, and also to help the other with any intuitive thoughts, the source of which can even extend to higher worlds. Now, I’m wondering if we’re actually helping these tech companies to create profiles for those interested in spiritual subjects? We can give big tech data about ourselves by clicking on ads, so I wonder how much more data we’re giving them by baring our souls online? I’m thinking of a study group on the book of Revelation, where we’re getting to know ourselves in a deep, spiritual way – doesn’t this mean that big tech is also able to create intimate profiles on participants?

    1. Boyd Collins says:

      While I do not know specifically that they are collecting and tracking exchanges during online meetings, the tech companies have the means to do this. During the meeting, I mentioned the book Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine who has intensively researched how and why companies such as Google and Facebook arose in the first place. Here’s a couple of excerpts to give you an idea of scope of the cooperation between Google and the NSA, “According to officials who were privy to the details of Google’s arrangements with the NSA, the company agreed to provide information about traffic on its networks in exchange for intelligence from the NSA about what it knew of foreign hackers,” wrote defense reporter Shane Harris in @War, a history of warfare. “It was a quid pro quo, information for information. And from the NSA’s perspective, information in exchange for protection.” This made perfect sense. Google servers supplied critical services to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department, just to name a few. It was part of the military family and essential to American society. It needed to be protected, too.”
      “Google didn’t just work with intelligence and military agencies but also sought to penetrate every level of society, including civilian federal agencies, cities, states, local police departments, emergency responders, hospitals, public schools, and all sorts of companies and nonprofits.”

      The key point is that anything online is available to both the intelligence community and is permanently stored by Big Tech. They may not use it today or tomorrow, but it will be there waiting and ready just in case ten years from now, they have some reason to profile members of an online group. Once such profile information is available, it can be used to develop psychological strategies if needed. Remember what Harari said – that the algorithms know you better than you know yourself. Unfortunately, it is true unless the higher self takes command. Only in the freedom and love of spiritual development can we find the forces to struggle against these powers.

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