John Hanke, who founded the company that developed mobile gaming sensation Pokémon Go, advocates persuasively for a conception of the “metaverse” that involves making our current reality better, rather than escaping it into a fictional world:

“But now people are babbling and swooning about this thing called a metaverse. Companies like Facebook – well, mainly Facebook – are pitching a more immersive vision where people don hardware rigs that block out their senses and replace the input with digital artifacts, essentially discarding reality for alternate worlds created by the lords of Silicon Valley. ‘Our overarching goal… is to help bring the metaverse to life,’ Mark Zuckerberg told his workforce in June.

“Hanke hates this idea. He’s read all the science fiction books and seen all the films that first imagined the metaverse – all great fun, and all wrong. He believes that his vision, unlike virtual reality, will make the real world better without encouraging people to totally check out of it. This past summer, he felt compelled to explain why in a self-described manifesto whose title says it all: “The Metaverse Is a Dystopian Nightmare. Let’s Build a Better Reality.” (Facebook’s response: Change its name to Meta so it could focus on constructing Hanke’s nightmare.)”