An experiment in the Metaverse

A few weeks back, a couple of friends and I experimented with having a meeting in the metaverse.

If you’re not sure, what the metaverse is, check out the video below:

After getting over the initial excitement and novelty about the experience, I had three questions at the back of my mind:

  1. Is this the future or just a fad?
  2. Is this better than a Zoom video call?
  3. How will this affect spirituality and overall well being?

I’m still thinking about this, but below are my initial thoughts:

1. Is the Metaverse the future or just a fad?

Will metaverse meetups replace Zoom video calls? 

WIll people work, play, and meet in the metaverse as comfortable as we meet over video calls? 

Do I see myself teaching Productive Muslim courses in the metaverse?

The answer is: it depends. 

It depends on the adoption rate of such technology. 

Just like how we adopted smartphones and they became ‘essential’ tools for our modern lives, I can see it becoming a ‘norm’ to have meetups in the metaverse if a large number of people adopt the technology and tools.

2. Is this better than a Zoom video call?

About an hour into the call, my headset battery died and I joined the room via a video call.

After a couple of hours in the metaverse, we decided to hop back into a zoom video call.

Although the meeting didn’t feel as immersive (as if I’m sitting right across from my friends), seeing a real human face in flesh and bone was definitely a more authentic experience – than seeing a cartoon character of the person I’m meeting.

So, no, I don’t think the metaverse would replace video calls. 

Just like video calls won’t replace real-life meetups, but they can be the next best thing if you can’t meet someone in real life.

3. How will this affect spirituality and wellbeing?

This will be the big question that I feel we all need to ask ourselves.

The first thought that crosses your mind when you take off your headset and you’re back to ‘real’ life is how ‘boring’ real life looks like. It’s not as colorful and bright as the metaverse. And that’s a scary thought. There’s a sense of your nafs wanting to go back to the metaverse utopia and escape this world.

This feeling reminded me of a powerful khutba that Sh. Omar Suleiman gave it a couple of weeks ago. He reminded us of the power of the Dajjal at the end of times to manipulate reality and make what’s not real feel better and be more exciting than the real world!

So how do I feel this will affect spirituality and wellbeing?

Well, we’ve seen how social media can be a double-edged sword. Yes, some good can come out of it, but it can also lead to all sorts of challenges including, anxiety, and in some cases breakdown of families and society. So we need to be cautious as we’re entering the next chapter of the internet. We need to ask ourselves:

  • How will this affect our spiritual hearts?
  • Will this be a distraction from doing the real-life work of preparing to meet Allah SWT?
  • Will it cause more confusion among the youth and a loss of their identity and character?
  • Or will this be a safe space where people can meet and learn and grow? And a bridge to help people overcome certain social anxieties they have in real life?

It’s too early to answer these questions. But here are my recommendations if you’re planning to explore the VR/metaverse world:

  1. Be intentional: Ask yourself, why are you entering this space? Is this for learning/experimenting or distraction/play? Be clear of your why.
  1. Set guidelines based on personal values: What will you do/not do when you enter the metaverse? When will you enter the metaverse and for how long? When will you know that you need to stop and you’re being addicted and simply escaping reality?
  1. Balance your VR experiences with high-quality IRL experiences: We are a middle nation. And we don’t go to extremes. You can engage in the VR world, but also have high quality IRL experiences with family and friends. Take your kids to the park instead of enjoying a VR vacation. Teach a workshop in real life instead of just through zoom/VR. Be very conscious that you’re blurring what’s real and what’s not.

I hope you found these thoughts useful and beneficial. I’ll keep you posted if my thoughts develop over time in this space… in the meantime, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter below and receive more insights on productivity experiments that my team and I explore every now and then.

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