It’s So Meta

The most frightening thing I watched this Halloween weekend was not any one horror movie, in a marathon of movies, but the Mark Zuckerberg replacement of reality with the Metaverse.

This isn’t an anti-gaming crusade or even an anti-Facebook rant against Zuck and his many friends

Nor is it meant to reinforce the mean girl curated social media image of his supposed alien-like appearance.

not that there’s anything wrong with that #channelingmyReginaGeorge

Nor is it even a knock against his status as one of the five richest MEN in the world.

(Note: He’s at $97 B, trailing Bezos ($177 B), Musk ($151 B), Arnault ($150B), and Gates ($124 B) )

It’s a WARNING to everyone that FACEBOOK has NO INTENTION of NOT enabling FAKE NEWS. 

Instead, they want to take this further and build us into a FAKE WORLD.

In essence, the plan is to invest his many billions to capitalize on a virtual reality universe where Facebook backs, empowers, sells and controls as much of the marketplace as possible. 

… the same thing we do every night, Pinky

A planet where we each sit alone in our rooms but live in a pretend state of traveling the world daily.

An existence where we spend our real money on fake things that only the more, or even less, pretty AVATAR version of us can use.

A personally curated (Note: with a lot of help from Facebook and its holdings) version of our life where we believe that what we SEE or HEAR or PARTICIPATE IN through our glasses, headsets and brain harnesses are truly us.

Does no one remember Google Glass?

What Zuck is advancing, and putting his many billions behind, is humanity existing in a space that is now so technologically advanced that real and virtual will merge to the point where which is what will be truly indecipherable. 

And the majority of the goods and services and technological manipulators of this plane will be Facebook financed, controlled or backed derivatives.

EXCELLENT

In his two-hour mind-numbing video where he officially attempts to rebrand Facebook as META, Zuck admits that in many ways this sounds like a science fiction movie.

But he attributes that merely to the fact that technology has not yet advanced far enough on a massive scale for us to be able to truly experience and appreciate what he has in mind.

I beg to differ.

Though I’m far more technologically challenged than Zuck (Note: Though as a fellow pale-skinned N.Y. Jewish guy, he does make me look positively sun-kissed, so I do win on that), I get it. 

I truly do.

What he is proposing is a 2021 reboot of the 1978 remake of a classic 1950s horror film, one that I watched this Hallow’s Eve weekend on Turner Classic Movies –

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

AHHHH!!

I actually had NEVER seen the quite compelling and now also classic 1978 film starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum, based on the 1954 horror novel.  But I was familiar with its plot.

A San Francisco health inspector (Note: It’s a doctor in the original) and his female co-worker discover over a few days that humans are being replaced by alien duplicates that are perfect copies of them BUT devoid of human emotion.

In the film this is done through human exposure to tiny, irresistibly fragrant pink flowers, each of which has initially miniscule alien pods with the secret capacity to replicate into ANY ONE OF US if given a googol of a chance.

Welcome to the Metaverse

It’s an insidious little m-f-cker because it was specifically designed to smell that damn good to all of humanity AND can infiltrate that damned fast through the human subconscious. 

And if all of this DOESN’T sound familiar perhaps you are already one of these pod people and the Body Snatchers story was never fiction at all.

Sadly, the longer I live through the 21st century, the more I am sure of exactly that.

Not to bring down the room or tempt any flower on my patio, or virtual reality device within 500 yards…um.. miles.

In any event, here’s what all this, that movie and, consequently, the reimagined Meta of it all, tells me:

Zuck has learned NOTHING from the last four years of misinformation and insurrection enabled by Facebook. 

So lifelike!

Check that, he’s a smart guy so he has learned something.  And that is how to take advantage of what we perceive to be his mistake of allowing a virtually rule-free platform of false information, since doing so might curtail ad revenue from lucrative sources and lower his profit margins. 

So basically what he has decided to do is make it far more difficult for us to spot disinformation since, with extended exposure to this new, proposed Meta lifestyle, our reality will become our Facebook generated Avatar reality. 

And with all of his billions behind all his planned technological advances, this fake existence will become far easier to enable and far more difficult to disengage from (Note: It’s worth noting that the 10 minute section of his presentation addressing policing offers no concrete plans for any enforcement whatsoever but merely advanced the idea that it will take us all TIME to figure this out and that some controls are indeed, encouraged).

I’m with Amy and Tina on this one

Oh, Zuck.

Meanwhile, this new world he touts where we won’t be experiencing the world through videos and social media posts but where YOU WILL BE IN THE EXPERIENCE is pretty darn sparkly.  And in true 21st century entrepreneurial style it will take advantage of where VR is now and harness all of it to make YOUR LIFE FULLER.

Though, I don’t know, is fuller the same as BETTER??? 

Just asking for a friend.

Nevertheless, with the wave of a hand, the flick of a wrist, or merely moving your fingers an eighth of an inch on your pants leg, you will be able to transport your hologram self to Europe in a second, attend a John Baptiste concert with your buddy on the opposite coast AND go to the after party with her (Note: Yes, Mr. Baptiste appears in that video), or type an email merely by thinking about it.  That is if you’ve got the right Ray Ban sunglasses on (Note: Yup, they’re tied in, too.) or the correct mini device on your physical body channeling your brain waves.

Could we use some billions to like… do anything else?

It’s the perfect setup where you can have even the most casual (or business) interactions without ever having to commute and sit in traffic because your AVATAR will do it all while you experience it.  Well, sort of.   And he or she or its non-binary version, if you prefer, can navigate in a nanosecond.  You will feel like you are LIVE…and A-live….with anyone.

But you won’t be.  You will be communicating through IT or, perhaps, a proposed hologram, and begin to believe, through repetition, that this IS…YOU.  Much in the way that many of us believe, through repetition, that a fake news story that isn’t real IS REAL because it’s been repeated so many times.   

Sounds tempting, no?

I’m done here

Not to this still barely human being who admittedly IS spending too much time at home still because of the global pandemic.

On the other hand, by the time this all happens en masse my breed and me will likely be long gone or, at least, on our way out.  

So we won’t be much of a factor.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you about virtually everything.  Assuming you can even remember we had this…um…conversation.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Scream

Fight Club

I stepped into a hornet’s nest of passion this weekend after re-posting a news article focused on a statement made by MSNBC commentator Joy Reid.

In it, she took Bernie Sanders to task for saying the Republican establishment will not stop him from getting the Democratic nomination for president, nor will the Democratic establishment. 

The tweet that started it all…

By equating the powerbrokers of both parties, Reid claimed Sanders was essentially staging a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party rather than bringing people of that party, and others, together to defeat Donald Trump.

She framed it all by pointing out that in making the above proclamation Sanders, a registered INDEPENDENT and technically NOT a Democrat, had boldly and unapologetically kicked 65 million Hillary Clinton voters, the majority of who WERE registered Democrats, to the curb.

And that he needed those voters to win.

I was in such agreement with those thoughts and so annoyed by Sanders’ cavalier messianic attitude, I instantly put it on Facebook with a single accompanying phrase: THIS.

Very quickly, and perhaps predictably given how many young people and former students are my Facebook friends, here’s what the reaction looked like:

My facebook feed for the last 24 hours

Now I had planned this week to write about how actress-writer Amanda Peet had literally stolen my identity with the title of her just announced Netflix TV series THE CHAIR, starring the sublime Sandra Oh as the head of a college English department.

I mean, all I could think of was:

HOW DARE SHE??????

But when you weigh my outrage against, well, my outrage, it’s clearly the subject of Bernie that wins — at least for right now.

More importantly, I’m thrilled that it did.

Me and conflict

That repost prompted close to 100 back and forth passionate, angry, frustrated funny and heartfelt comments on politics, social issues and the state of our mutual lives.

I don’t know that it singlehandedly changed anyone’s mind, for the moment, but I am positive it allowed many of us to better understand the place from which each of us were coming from and why we felt the way that we did.

I’m also inclined to think that the next time this subject comes up we might all be that much more informed about how people really feel on the issues and allow us to engage that much more effectively.

Me, achieving world peace

It might even enable us to resolve a few things and modify our approach, or opinions.

This is how change happens and this is how you open hearts and minds.  Not by rolling over but by engaging, arguing, listening and then engaging again.  And again.  And then some more.

A big part of my job as a college professor is to provoke, navigate and guide.   There is nothing wrong with criticism if it’s followed by discussion.  It’s essential in the classroom and in life if we’re to ever move forward anymore.

TAKE NOTE SANDRA! (nice chair though)

But too often these days we just can’t seem to do it well or avoid it all together.

Talking out loud about a controversial issue, statement or opinion devolves into I hate this, or him or herOr rage about the blah, blah, blah of the blah, blah, bah.  Even the mere sound or sight of the blah, blah, blah, in print, or worse, in person, is sickening.

This enables the I won’t comment at all for fear of being attacked or the strategy to seethe quietly (or not so quietly) and then strike in such a way that I can’t be harmed  and/or you won’t know who it is.

Or the alternate strategy of I will do nothing and just go on with my life, which isn’t horrible enough to move me away from my everyday routine in order to engage with this issue, or you.

If only

This doesn’t work for any of us on either side in the long run.

My college community is at the moment in the midst of discussions about race and racism as we become a more diverse and inclusive campus.

It is healthy to address those issues and more as long as it’s not done in an absolutist manner from either side.

This is difficult to achieve, as many in the fight will attest to, but clearly is possible.  We stumble, we upset each other but we persevere and eventually come to an understanding of each other’s points of view and then figure out how to best soldier on with the best outcomes for as many of us as possible.

And if that doesn’t work, we can all agree that Jon Hamm’s still got it

It’s easy to see colleges, or social media platforms or real live engagement as a petri dish of microaggressions, oversensitivities, insensitivities, hostilities or simply biased and/or callous disregard, and worse. 

But that’s not the way I look at it.

We MUST get in the ring and spar, perhaps even fight, in order to get anywhere, especially these days.  We are required to LISTEN and then try to understand, regardless of whether we do a 180 and change our points of view.

To turn away and NOT do it, to hide from all this conflict, is a sure fire strategy for our mass mutual demise.

Christina Aguilera – “Fighter”