Metaverse meets Education- Utopia or Dystopia?
Understanding the fundamentals
The Metaverse can be defined as a collection of 3D virtual online environments. It is the Internet of the future, likely to be created through virtual and augmented reality technologies. By integrating the user into the network as an avatar in a 3D object world, the metaverse is expected to expand the range of online interactions. In the process, users’ lives will be virtually interconnected in all areas. Communication, education and commerce will become easier and more effective thanks to the Metaverse. The metaverse is currently still at a very early stage. Nevertheless, companies have made significant investments in the future of the metaverse. The basic elements needed to develop this technology have already been developed to a large extent.
Learning about augmented and virtual reality
As each user controls a persona or avatar, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will dominate the metaverse. Currently, this technology is available in the form of heavy headsets. These headsets enhance the virtual world experience by transforming it from a 2D to a 3D world. The vast majority of virtual worlds built recently are games, but many of them do not yet support VR/AR technology. Many people use the platform for purposes other than gaming and have built their entire digital selves on it. Virtual reality (VR) technology also allows students to experience an entirely new environment or take on the role of another character. Going into meta-worlds makes it easier to visualize situations, such as difficult developmental tasks.
The metaverse has the power to fundamentally change the current social landscape. People have the freedom to reinvent themselves after being exposed to a completely different environment. They have the chance to reinvent their own identities and find their way in a society that is free of existing societal prejudices and norms, resulting in a more tolerant and open-minded atmosphere. Although this seems to be the best option, there are some very serious disadvantages.
Creating a new identity may seem exciting, but it can also be very deceptive. People pretending to be someone else can easily attract their attention. Such deception could be harmful. This immediately raises the question of user safety in the metaverse. Nowadays, everyone’s life is dominated by privacy concerns. Overall, people feel uncomfortable and unprotected due to the loss of privacy and the lack of cybersecurity.
The Future: a utopian or dystopian society?
In bridging the gap between the physical and virtual worlds, we can easily lose sight of this distinction. This situation is explained by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, known for his seminal work on the concepts of simulations and hyperreality. He defined hyperreality as a state in which the boundaries between reality and simulation blur so imperceptibly that it is impossible to distinguish one from the other. Ultimately, he said, the distinction does not matter because people would find the virtual world more meaningful and valuable. The virtual world, he said, is more real to them than the physical one. And the ideal civilization that was once just a dream will quickly turn into a gloomy nightmare.
This is Only the Beginning
We still do not fully understand what the metaverse is or where it is going because we are still at a very early stage of the process. The metaverse is the way evolution is progressing. However, in the pursuit of progress with such cutting-edge technology, it is easy to lose sight of the “real” world. The result is almost counterproductive, as people move further and further away from reality and immerse themselves in a supposedly “perfect” environment instead of blending the real and virtual worlds. The “real” world could become dystopian due to the strong contrasts between the two worlds, while augmented reality gives the impression of a utopian society.
Therefore, it is crucial to find a balance between maintaining a foundation in the “real” world and progress in the “virtual” world, and to merge the two to reach new levels of development.