The internet and social media connects humanity across vast distances. However, it has also driven us further away from each other through algorithms, echochambers and the existence of trolls, vying to make platforms as toxic as possible. Tony Fadell, the creator of the iPod, thinks that Internet trolls are about to get a whole lot worse with the upcoming rise of The Metaverse.
While a bit confusing, the metaverse is meant to transport players to an online landscape through a combination of VR and AR technology. Users will create their own avatars, interact with friends, and presumably purchase a lot of digital content. But how will it make trolls even worse?
How the metaverse will encourage more trolls
Speaking with BBC, Fadell says that the metaverse is only going to continue the ongoing disconnect people already have with each other due to social media. He thinks that trolls will be even more toxic in the metaverse since they can hide behind their avatar, which is something they already do through social media apps.
"It become disintermediated and you have the ability at that point to create more trolls, people who hide behind things and then use that to their advantage to get attention,” Fadell tells BBC. We need to regain control of that human connection, we don't need more technology between us."
Trolls aren’t just annoying pests who tell people they suck at online games, as various corrupt personalities have weaponized them for nefarious needs. Whether it’s “owning the libs” or promoting far-right beliefs, trolls can be pretty dangerous and people don’t use that big block button enough on them. Hell, some of them proudly talk about how they’ve been blocked.
Now, this isn’t exactly news. Not only is everyone expecting trolling to get infinitely worse in virtual reality, but Metaverse developers Meta is expecting it. In a report by Meta, developers deemed that the company’s virtual world is unable to be moderated due to unparalleled human freedom.
The world doesn’t need a metaverse
Fadell’s dislike for the metaverse isn’t just due to trolls, as he feels all this money can be used to solve real-world problems. He feels that social media has distracted society from the massive environmental issues that continue to plague the Earth, pointing out that the climate crisis is worse than ever.
He does admit that there are benefits to AR and VR, telling Wired they can be incredible when “focused on a certain task.” But since the metaverse seems to just be another platform for gaming, music, content creation, and selling more products, Fadell feels it's an answer to a problem society currently doesn’t have.
To be frank, it’s hard to disagree with the iPod creator when it comes to his thoughts about the metaverse. Meta is spending an ungodly amount of money on a VR reality that no one actually needs. Does anyone actually want a Ready Player One reality, especially one filled with worse trolls? We sure don’t.