I’m concerned about the direction of our digital culture because of Mark Zuckerberg’s soulless avatar.
We are all doomed if avatars resembling the Facebook CEO start appearing in the future.
In the past two years, the term “metaverse” has gained a lot of popularity as a buzzword. It is a metaverse, Fortnite. Blockchain and Web3 will support the metaverse’s energy needs. Maybe cows will even be a part of it? Nobody, however, seems more committed to influencing how we as a society perceive the metaverse than Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook and Meta. Unfortunately, what Zuckerberg has demonstrated of his vision of our beautiful virtual future appears dull, drab, generic, and quite gloomy, which is bad news for anyone eager to experience it. Additionally, it’s a good reminder that the future shouldn’t be run by affluent tech guys.
This week, Mark Zuckerberg, the extraterrestrial who appears to be wearing a human skin suit, shared a virtual reality selfie from the Horizon Worlds metaverse project. The selfie, which featured the Eiffel Tower, was intended to signal the expansion of his metaverse into new nations. However, as soon as they saw the awful avatar, awful photo, and how it all appeared to have come straight out of a 2005 educational game, people started to make fun of it.
Strangely, this isn’t the first time Zuck has flaunted repulsive representations of himself in an effort to entice people into his nightmare world driven by virtual reality.
If the intention was to reconstruct the multibillionaire CEO as a smooth, cartoonish avatar you could see in a fever dream, Zuckerberg used an ugly-as-sin avatar that loosely resembled him to showcase the VR software Facebook Spaces back in 2017. Oh, and for some reason he decided that the best way to promote this app and his hideous avatar was to travel to Puerto Rico via video after the island had been devastated by a devastating hurricane that killed hundreds of people and destroyed many of its houses and businesses.
Old Zuckie made a comeback in 2021 with a more attractive avatar. Although it debuted in a video demonstrating Facebook and Meta’s ambitious metaverse goals, this avatar isn’t genuine. Instead, it was produced as a component of a bigger concept video that explained what Meta was aiming for. Even still, this avatar has the appearance of a Polar Express crash victim.
And that gets us to 2022, where Zuckerberg’s online persona is a legless Nintendo Mii copycat with some incredibly strange buttons and a corpse’s eyes. And it’s not only how Zuckerberg looks; in Horizon Worlds, this is how all avatars look. I’ve played Horizon Worlds long enough to know that the legs are quickly forgotten. But the absence of style and the sterile, lifeless look remain.
It’s true that Quest 2’s limited VR hardware and Facebook’s ambition to create VR content that works on as many devices as possible contribute to the plain and uninteresting appearance of these avatars and environments in comparison to more recent video games.
But compared to what we’ve seen so far in Facebook’s metaverse, I can find games for the Nintendo DS and Sony PS Vita that have richer, nicer-looking imagery and models. The people who make these stuff, in my opinion, are not to blame either because they are more than capable of producing better and more interesting things. But it looks like Meta and Zucklehead don’t want that more and more. Instead, they are focusing on creating a product that the general public can consume without any distinguishing qualities in an effort to draw in more consumers.
The more socially driven VR metaverses like VR Chat, which look better and feel cozier and more inviting, take the exact opposite tack. Horizon Worlds, in contrast, has the appearance of an animated film I might see while browsing a posh hospital’s waiting room.
And if Mark Zuckerberg is putting billions of dollars into this bland and ugly metaverse as the future he envisions, I’m concerned that it might prevail over other, better options simply because he has the financial means to squelch or acquire rivals. At least I’ll be able to skip it and avoid purchasing a new VR headset if it prevails.