Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse will become a toxic world of trolling, Apple iPod creator warns

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MARK Zuckerberg’s metaverse may encourage trolling and damage human interaction, expert claims.

Tony Fadell – the creator of the Apple iPod and lead developer of the first three generations of the iPhone– has expressed concern about the metaverse and its implications on social connection.

The metaverse describes a digital platform that will combine gaming, social media, augmented reality, and cryptocurrency for an integrated user experience.

Fadell said that the virtual world will remove the ability “to look into the other person’s face.”

“If you put technology between that human connection that’s when the toxicity happens,” he added.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long been vocal about his plans for the metaverse, and most of the world’s tech giants are following suit, including Google, Nvidia, and Microsoft.

“The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection,” Meta writes on a webpage that also hosts a 13-part audio series detailing Zuckerberg’s vision for the virtual space.

Just in 2021 alone, Meta spent $10 billion on developing its metaverse – the money was allocated to several products including the Oculus VR headset, and its Reality Labs division.

However, now analysts are pondering how Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse will affect individuals, who are already highly integrated into an online world.

I’m not against the technology,” Fadell said in an interview with CNET. “I’m against the application; the way it’s been buzzed about. It’s not a problem that needs solving.

Fadell is not the only industry expert to speak out against the development of metaverse platforms.

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Ken Kutaragi, who invented Sony’s PlayStation game console, said: “You would rather be a polished avatar instead of your real self? That’s essentially no different from anonymous message board sites.”

Similarly, many psychology experts are speaking out against the metaverse from a scientific lens.

Science has concrete evidence that links the overuse of digital technology to several mental health issues, such as depression, psychoticism, and paranoid ideation, according to a peer-reviewed article in Psychology Today.

Spending a lot of time in a digital environment can also result in someone preferring virtual spaces to reality.

This can “negatively impact our ability to engage in non-virtual life, whether it’s self-confidence or belonging or social anxiety,” Rachel Kowert, research director at Take This, a nonprofit focused on mental health in the video gaming community, told The Wall Street Journal.

Similarly, Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, noted that there may be challenges when people spend a lot of time “in a world in which everyone is just perfect and beautiful and ideal.”

Still, some experts say that it’s important to look at the context in the metaverse’s case.

Nick Allen, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, said that the question shouldn’t be how much time people are spending on the metaverse.

Instead, he says it’s more important to look at whether time spent in the metaverse promotes or hinders one’s mental health.

“A young person who may be LGBT and who finds an online context where they can feel a sense of social support—we would predict that that would be a benefit for their mental health,” Allen said.

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