Following the creation of Meta accompanied by the grandiose announcements by the media singing the praises of future metaverses, we can rightly ask ourselves, which metaverses and what future are we talking about? … My friend, Yann Minh, a fellow explorer of cyberspace shares with us his thoughts and fears.
– From the introduction of Mon Métaverse by Tutsy Navarathna
With these words, Tutsy Navarathna leads us into his latest video, one that among his most thought-provoking (which is saying something, given the depth of content and ideas that are always embraced by his work).
Published on his You Tube channel on January 16th, Mon Métaverse (“My Metaverse”) offers thoughts and reflections on the futures of “the metaverse” from both Tutsy and cyberspace explorer Yann Minh, who has been active within, and considering, virtual spaces for over 20 years.
Running to just a touch over 5 minutes, the video is a fascinating dissection of the current hype around “the metaverse”. Within it we are invited to consider what we have had up until now, and the choices we may face in the future. Do we hold on to we have thus far had: a digital life of almost limitless horizons and infinite diversity in which freedom of expression and creativity are embraced; or are we going to allow ourselves to be herded into sanitised corporate-defined spaces where expression and creativity run second to the surrender of personal data to feed the corporate revenue machine, and activities are governed by fake corporate morals.
When I thought twenty years ago that we were heading towards a more flexible, versatile and mature future, in fact the opposite is happening. We are clearly heading towards an infantizing, paternalistic future similar to the time when religious morals massively imposed their absurd rules on individuals.
Yann Minh, Mon Métaverse
This is a subject that can be debated at a length that will easily exceed the 5 minutes of the video. However, the beauty of Mon Métaverse is that Yann encapsulates these concerns eloquently and concisely, challenging us to think about our digital future without belabouring the message. In doing so, he positions things perfectly for Tutsy to present a – frankly – marvellous and honest look at the richness we have within Second Life, perfectly illustrating what “the metaverse” should really be about: the creativity of individuals, built without the data-hungry maw of algorithm and data collation sitting beneath it.
Beyond this, and on a personal level, I couldn’t help but see a possible broader context within the video; a more subtle questioning / challenge. It comes both in Yann’s comments around Facebook / Meta as the tip of an iceberg and the follow-on statement regarding religious censorship. We already know Facebook is responsible for the spread of disinformation – a practice it is unwilling to stop, and which has assisted the open growth of authoritarian politics that are, to no small extent, founded on a fake moralistic and divisive organised religion. As it turns out, this was in fact something that both Yann and Tutsy had also been considering in developing the concept of the video, as Tutsy informed me.
We are faced with a system that’s increasingly dominated by normalising algorithms in the service of a radical, conservative, authoritarian right unchallenged by most of the media. Within digital spaces, Meta is just the tip of the iceberg which as Yann Minh puts it, “leads us to a paternalistic, infantilizing future”; it seems high time we express our opposition to the way our freedoms and democracy are being so challenged least, as Yann notes, we see the absurd rules of the religious conservatives imposed on all of us within virtual spaces as well.
– Tutsy Navarathna
Thus, Mon Métaverse folds into itself a broader narrative that is not entirely out-of-place, and which adds further depth to its message for those who like to ponder such matters.
But, leaving messages and narratives aside, Mon Métaverse stands as a superb promotional piece for Second Life, both within the broader context of “the metaverse” and as a means of offering insight into the platforms power to attract, engage and retain users. This makes it more than worth the time take to watch it, and I encourage you to do so, either by viewing it below or clicking on the link within the video panel and watching it directly on Tutsy’s You Tube channel.