If Mark Zuckerberg Means What He Says About “The Metaverse” We’re In Far Worse Shape Than We Thought

Jumana Abu-Ghazaleh
11 min readNov 5, 2021
Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

What if God was one of us?

— Joan Osbourne, One Of Us

They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.

— Mark Zuckerberg’s first recorded communication about Facebook

Facebook, or Meta, or whatever Mark Zuckerberg is electing to call it this week, is now allegedly a “Metaverse company.”

What does that mean, exactly?

And what do Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook mean by “the Metaverse” in the first place?

The official Meta launch video, unfortunately, did not really tell us. There’s no concrete definition within it — the closest Zuckerberg gets is stating “the best way to understand the Metaverse is to experience it yourself.” (Some real echoes here of ‘you have to see the Matrix for yourself.’) This is immediately followed by some spectacularly unconvincing video of Mark making small-chat with uncanny-valley, dead-eyed CGI avatars of his friends, playing bridge except, y’see, in the middle of a Starship Enterprise screensaver; it looks, for all the world, like a Second Life ad, only more boring. This is not a very good answer to “What is the Metaverse?”

About a month prior, however, Facebook gave the question a slightly more straightforward answer. On Monday, September 27th — a week to the day before all Facebook properties underwent a universal outage so debilitating that Facebook employees couldn’t even enter their physical offices, an event they still have not explained — two Facebook Vice Presidents published a working response:

The “metaverse” is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you. You’ll be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more.

This, of course, already exists. It is known as the Internet.

Yes, I know: ”the Internet,” formally speaking, is what we call the network infrastructure that connects computers all around the world, not the end user experience which that network infrastructure facilitates.

In daily use, however? For the vast majority of non-specialists? Facebook’s terrible…

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Jumana Abu-Ghazaleh

Founder @ Pivot For Humanity. Published in Fast Company, OneZero, IEEE Technology + Society. Board member. Palestinian. Start with empathy, always.