Meta’s Augmented Reality, and the Severing of Human Connection

The hydra of scandals, lawsuits, and controversy has many heads, but Mark Zuckerberg continues to effortlessly sever them all as he bulldozes through the tech world, determined to get Meta into the same VIP booth atop Mt. Olympus as Apple and Google, and he claims to have found his holy grail – AR (augmented reality) goggles.

Having recently appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Zuckerberg announced that these goggles – codenamed ‘Project Cambria’— will most likely be released at the annual Meta Connect event in October next month.

Zuckerberg stated, “What virtual reality unlocks…is it’s convincing your brain that you’re there. You have to try to convince your brain that this isn’t real. That you’re not present.” Further explaining the device, he added that, while wearing these goggles (which will one day be reduced to the size of regular, everyday sunglasses), text messages and other notifications will appear in the lens, and users will be able to respond with a conspicuous flick of the wrist. So, while you’re in mid conversation with one person, you can respond to another, and the first person won’t even realize that you’re not paying attention to them, which is great news, seeing as people aren’t nearly too distracted by technology nowadays anyway. Relationships, friendships, and romance will all just be a buzzing diversion to an alternative universe you’ve now convinced your brain is real, as opposed to the one literally in front of you.

“How few of the things in the physical world actually need to be physical,” – Mark Zuckerberg.

The value of a conversation, a game of chess, or perhaps even a fencing match with an actual human being ostensibly carries little merit in a world where, hopefully, we will be devoid of all the unnecessary things, and the only physical necessities will be things like food, chairs, and perhaps a blanket when it gets cold.

In 2018, Lancet Medical Journal published a study that found people who check Facebook late at night were more likely to feel anxious, lonely and depressed throughout the day. In 2015, a similar study reported that users who feel envy while on the site were also prone to depression, anxiety and hopelessness. So, maybe – in an attempt to counter those emotions – this is all part of the Meta masterplan, that people will no longer need to check Facebook, as they will simply be living it. And in case anyone forgot, Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s infamously uttered, “Netflix’s biggest competitor is sleep.” And TikTok is really helping in that regard too.

Well, assuming you’ve all seen Terminator 2, we better buckle up and prepare to fight the machines – judgement day is coming.

Just kidding.

But seriously though, research shows that as many as two in five brands will apparently be investing half of their budget into the Metaverse, or other VR strategies, within the next two years. Guess we don't really have a choice?

After two plus years of lockdown where many of us were forced into a virtual reality world, it begs the question that perhaps some of us don’t want to re-enter the real world and prefer the one we’ve created for ourselves online. If you feel like your existence mirrors that of a fish who has been forced to survive in a desert, then maybe virtual reality is a better option? The long-term effects of living in an augmented reality are slim because we simply do not have the data, and all we can rely on is the sparse, Nostradamus-like speculation and research we have available now. With that said, one thing the lockdown has answered for us is that the need for human connection has escalated drastically. Covid impaired our ability to travel, to dine, to explore, to thrive, and to live, but mostly, it forced many of us to say goodbye to loved ones via facetime. Although this is a good substitute when all other options have been compromised, it will never beat reality.

In remaining optimistic, I do hope that getting one final embrace from your grandparent, parent, sibling, friend, or even a pet, will never be eclipsed by a set of goggles convincing you this person is right in front of you as you sit, alone on a couch, stretch our your arms and hug nothing but air.