Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the hype about the ‘metaverse’ and how it’s supposedly going to be the biggest thing since smartphones, or maybe even the internet itself.
Breathless news articles exclaim that companies are flocking to the metaverse en-masse, eager to stake out a claim to (supposedly) valuable and scarce virtual real-estate. The metaverse gold rush is analogous to how companies flocked to the web in the late 1990s, we’re told, where companies that were late missed out on valuable ‘.com’ addresses.
The billions being invested into the metaverse by tech titans such as Meta, Alphabet/Google and Microsoft is proof that the metaverse will be huge, according to most media reports, so you’d better get on to the metaverse or you’re going to miss out!
What does this mean for vet clinics?
Should you have FOMO about establishing a presence on the metaverse in case you miss out?
In short, no you shouldn’t.
The metaverse is a dud. It’s a non-starter. You’re not missing out on being there now and you’re very unlikely to miss out if you’re not on the metaverse in future.
What is the metaverse?
If you’re unsure of what the metaverse is, you’re not alone. Many studies show that less than 20% of 18 – 60 year-olds claim to understand what the metaverse is, despite Mark Zuckerberg trying (increasingly desperately) to convince us how important it’s going to be to us all.
The metaverse is a virtual world similar in nature to the world wide web, but one that’s navigated in virtual reality (VR). At minimum to interact with the metaverse you’d need to don a VR headset and that’s where things quickly start to fall apart.
Why it isn’t worth the investment
The metaverse is a dud because most of us don’t have a VR headset and, more importantly, very few of us are ever going to want to buy one.
Computers, then smartphones, were wildly successful because they are usable within the world that we occupy. Computers have become increasingly mobile, going from the desktop, to the laptop, to the tablet then the smartphone. As they’ve done so they’ve become increasingly indispensable to most of us. If you really want to scare someone at Halloween tell them they’ve left home without their mobile and watch their reaction.
VR, by contrast, doesn’t fit within our world. To use VR (and, by extension, to enter the metaverse) requires us to leave our world and to enter a completely different and virtual one. It requires us to be completely cut off and disconnected from the goings on around us. One of the primary functions of VR headsets is to shut out the sights and sounds of the real world so we can become totally immersed in the virtual one displayed on its tiny little screens.
While this can be great for immersive functions, such as playing games or watching movies, it’s downright awful for just about everything else.
Wearing a VR headset in public is near impossible. Not if you value life and limb, at least. Although I could wear one at my desk or at home, doing so renders me completely disconnected from those around me. The benefits of wearing the VR headset and entering the metaverse simply don’t outweigh the disadvantages of being disconnected from the real world around me.
At Panacea, we’re strong advocates for telemedicine and we believe that the number of vets providing remote services will continue to grow rapidly over the coming years. We don’t believe that VR will play much of a role in this, however, and the metaverse will hardly feature.
We’d call the metaverse a fad, but it doesn’t even qualify as that. For it to be a fad there has to be a period of intense interest from at least a subset of the community. Unfortunately for Mark Zuckerberg the metaverse has already started fading into obscurity without many of us even giving it a go.