Why I will never use Zuckerberg’s metaverse

Ar & Vr

When Mark Zuckerberg announced his intentions to pivot Facebook toward building the “metaverse” – a virtual reality-powered internet – he framed it as the next major computing platform that will transform how we all connect, play, and work. But as an avid tech user, I approach this vision of the metaverse with immense skepticism. No matter how alluring Zuckerberg tries to make his metaverse vision sound, there are several core reasons I firmly believe I will never become a user.

Walled Garden Business Model

My first major objection is that Zuckerberg’s notion of the metaverse entails a closed ecosystem centrally controlled and owned by Meta. This walled garden approach runs counter to the open, decentralized nature of the existing internet.

By controlling all access points and platform standards, Meta gains inordinate influence over user experiences and monetization within the metaverse. This stifles innovation, competition, and choice – principles that made the web thrive. As a user accustomed to the freedoms of the open internet, I have zero interest in inhabiting a virtual world governed by one company’s business interests.

Data Privacy Nightmare

Even more alarming is the privacy dystopia Zuckerberg’s metaverse could unleash. Meta’s entire business model relies on continuously collecting and monetizing user data across its properties. Now imagine that model applied to tracking your every virtual interaction, emotion, relationship, and experience via sensors on your VR headset and body. No thank you.

The intimacy of VR ecologies poses incredibly dangerous privacy risks when managed by a company with Meta’s surveillance capitalist track record. The metaverse vision commodifies identity, friendships, and self-expression as behavioral data to feed algorithms and optimizers. This is a profoundly dehumanizing and unethical framework I refuse to participate in.

Algorithmic Manipulation

Building on those privacy concerns, I worry Zuckerberg’s metaverse will subject users to unprecedented levels of algorithmic manipulation and control. The line between person and product blurs when your emotions, relationships, and memories become inputs for engagement-optimizing algorithms.

VR also gives Meta more avenues to promote addictive and divisive content through its optimized feeds. Immersive virtual spaces could enable new heights of behavioral advertising and social engineering powered by real-time emotion detection and biometrics. No revenue opportunity will be left unexplored, at users’ expense.

Widening Inequality

Zuckerberg pitches the metaverse as a leveler that defies physical and socio-economic limitations, but I foresee it exacerbating real-world inequities instead. Costly VR equipment and limited access will freeze many out of the metaverse. Those permitted entry may face new forms of virtual marginalization and abuse absent adequate inclusion safeguards and protections.

While Zuckerberg promises openness and accessibility, Meta will ultimately optimize the metaverse experience for its highest-paying users and advertisers. Virtual existence will likely stratify into ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ along existing class lines – deepening digital divides. A “metaverse for all” under Meta’s stewardship rings hollow.

Physical Harm Risks

Health and safety is another area I simply do not trust Meta to steward responsibly. Meta bypassed ethics and raced to market with VR products before fully understanding long-term physical or mental health impacts. VR overuse poses risks like eye strain, repetitive stress injuries, motion sickness, and disorientation.

Children especially do not need longer exposure to immersive screens. But Meta is pushing youth VR engagement anyway – likely neglecting its duty of care in favor of growth imperatives. I cannot in good conscience subject myself or my family to health risks of unproven products from a company with profit motives over safety.

No True Ownership

Perhaps my deepest misgiving is that users will have no actual ownership or equity in the metaverse economy. Our identities, creations, and activities in VR produce tremendous value – yet we gain no real assets, property, or capital.

Instead our attention and engagement feeds disproportionate wealth accumulation for Meta shareholders. Our virtual existence essentially becomes slave labor. For new digital worlds to be equitable, users must share collectively in the wealth generated rather than serving as growth engines for a single corporate entity. The metaverse must be built on principles of cooperativism instead of exploitation.

Unwanted Life Takeover

Fundamentally, I worry using Zuckerberg’s metaverse may become practically mandatory to fully participate in life – but it’s a form of existence I did not ask for or consent to. VR demands constant attention and dependence, supplanting real world relationships and experiences. The metaverse vision is dystopian to me.

As an individual, I do not want my identity subsumed into a Facebook-dominated virtual existence. Like many, I crave more human connection, not less. The metaverse promises to make life more convenient but also more alienating and invasive under the guise of technological progress. Sometimes simpler is better.

In Summary…

Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision prioritizes Meta’s growth, revenue, convenience and engagement over human dignity, autonomy, and well-being. Maybe VR can enhance select parts of life, but I adamantly reject the all-encompassing metaverse future Zuckerberg envisions.

I do not want my identity and experiences algorithmically managed by a mega-corporation. I do not want to live a monitored virtual life dependent on one company’s ecosystem. I do not want to sacrifice more of my privacy, humanity, and freedom in exchange for technological novelty.

The metaverse Zuckerberg proposes is a cage masquerading as emancipation. The years of scandals and unethical conduct across Meta’s platforms have eroded trust beyond repair. No virtual reality can offset the real-world damage from Meta’s unchecked power and rampant surveillance. Our digital future deserves better. This version of the metaverse is not for me.

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