The Metaverse needs a New Breed of Leader. You.
The Metaverse entered the collective consciousness in 1992 in the novel Snow Crash by Neil Stevenson in his dystopian view of the world some years after a global economic crash. It then shifted into more common awareness through the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline in 2011, and later through the film of the same name which introduced us to the (mostly shiny) Oasis – virtual worlds of wonder we can explore by plugging in through a headset and – if you’re lucky enough – a haptic feedback suit.
Both novels show us essentially versions of an MMORPG, though Ready Player One takes us one step further in that there are many games, lounges, hangouts and virtual equivalents of things you do in the real world. Both are, interestingly, set in dystopian futures.
The real Metaverse has been developing apace over the last few years with a handful of key players looking to make their mark. Most notably is Mark Zuckerberg – having rebranded the Facebook corporation to META, stepping up as the self-proclaimed creator of the Metaverse (and suspending the artist @metaverse in the process because it was impersonating them – even though she had used it since 2012).
However, META is only one such Metaverse and one that most adopters of the space are against since having an organisation at the head of the Metaverse (as in Ready Player One) is at odds with the founding beliefs of cryptocurrency, DAOs and the open principles that they revolve around.
In technical terms, the Metaverse is a digital application layer that sits atop all the other layers, with the blockchains at the base layer, up through cryptocurrencies, NFTs, DeFi, GameFi and everything else in between. The Metaverse is a UI that makes the whole digital Matrix accessible easily, abstracting the technology away. The whole stack is a digital alternative to how real life is layered with new rules at each layer to – hopefully – fix the problems with the physical. (If you want to learn more about this ‘stack’, watch this video on YouTube. It’s from a financial perspective and relates physical monetary systems with the new digital ecosystem.)
Sound too much like a utopian vision? Maybe.
The problem is the ghost in the machine – the human element. While the digital side runs predictably using cryptography, ensuring consistency without the need for autocracy, the chaos comes at the man-machine interface. Not the neural jack that Neo wears in the film The Matrix, but in the gatekeepers to this new world.
If you are up-to-speed with the way social media is being used today – cancel culture, mob rule, etc, etc – you can see how humanity’s true values are being exposed (see What’s Wrong With Social Media? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Trevor Noah Just Explained). As Thomas Chatterton Williams was quoted: “Social media technology and culture amplifies pathological and anti-social tendencies cloaked in social justice and therapeutic jargon.”
The boundaries the Real gave us – where we were more sensitive to others responses when confronted by them face to face and with the real possibility of a slap in the face – have been thrown to the wind in the online world. People troll you, hide behind disposable pseudonyms, take you out of context, have you banned for choosing the wrong side, and ask you things you’d never ask a stranger IRL (in real life). It’s like being back in some of the early Internet chat rooms but with a nicer interface that makes it easier for the mob to join the chorus. And that chorus is out of tune.
And the Metaverse is shaping up to be that on steroids.
I was invited to an NFT channel a few days back and I decided to check it out. It looked like an interesting project and I started to chat with a couple of people in the Discord and play blackjack in their games room while I learned more about the project. Somebody asked me who invited me to the server, so I told them and 2 minutes later I was banned from the server. No discussion, no reason, no warning. Just a case of prejudice implemented by a human who became judge, jury and executioner in one fell swoop. I was genuinely interested in the project – it looked like it had good potential. But they preferred to erase instead of engage. I had no idea what the other person had done as the invite just showed up in my DMs. That’s normal – you get invites from random people all the time. It’s part of the system, but I was irrevocably evicted for what amounted to standing next to the wrong person in the queue.
The whole point of a Metaverse “built on open standards and fostering inclusivity” is the ideal we should be seeking, and key industry players are helping to ensure it happens technically (no, not Meta). But a handful of early adopter ‘meat suits’ are showing the true nature of their humanity and ensuring the exact opposite – exclusivity, arrogance and megalomania or, as Thomas said, “pathological and anti-social tendencies.”
What happens when we scale this up with everybody getting on-board? Do you think it will be a beautiful place, or a seedy, dystopian mirror world reflecting and projecting our shadow selves into every corner of our (virtual) reality? Will you be able to colo for that meet-up without some cracker jacking your private keys or just pranking your NFTs?
Scammers, phishers, fraudsters and more are already heavily present in this new frontier of the Metaverse. You have to be vigilant all the time, know more than you should know, and interpolate socially engineered hacks from the Real to virtual social hacks that can come at you 24/7 via bots that automate the “monsters from the id.”
But what can we do to change this tide? Do we need to police the new frontier and fight fire with fire?
I don’t believe we do.
The new frontier needs leaders, and not leaders modelled on how we did it in the Real (which didn’t work out too well), but leaders who embody the qualities we seek in others to build community, stimulate growth, encourage learning and understand our humanity. To go beyond the limitations of the Real and embrace the possibilities this new, expanded reality affords us. The possibility of achieving greater collective consciousness and getting closer to Consciousness. Leaders who truly embody the values and essence of the Metaverse. We stand at the threshold of this quantum gate and need leaders who will guide us through together.
Such Lightworkers and Leaders are already incarnating into the Metaverse, but we are few in number. Are you this type of leader? Do you possess these true human qualities?
Then come join us in the Creator’s Circle. The future needs you.
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