This past summer, Zuckerberg slam-dunked us all into the Uncanny Valley with his soulless new Meta avatars. For reasons beyond human understanding, Zuck and his cult of Snow Crash-worshipping yes men have been bent on turning Meta’s
zombie SecondLife clone VR social network, Horizon Worlds, into a kind of augmented-reality filter superimposed over the real world, in just the way that Facebook seeped into every corner of our current social reality. Now, Microsoft and Meta have decided to bring a ton of Microsoft products into the Metaverse, including Windows, Office, Xbox, and Teams.
“People will be able to join a Teams meeting directly from Workrooms,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the announcement at MetaConnect. “We think that this cross-device, cross-screen experience will be the foundation of the virtual office of the future.” Just think: your job can be all Teams meetings, forever.
What could possibly go wrong?
Product in Need of a Market
You can’t force virality. But Meta is trying to turn the real world into Pokemon Go, except with Teams meetings.
Listen. Zuckerberg. My guy. You don’t legitimize your terrible idea by forcing it on people really politely. The fact that this crap sandwich comes with a nice garnish of Xbox games does not negate the fact that it’s still a crap sandwich. Microsoft’s veneer of respectability doesn’t put clothes back on the emperor. Nor does it fix the Super Mario 64 graphics that Zuck used to show off (?!) his cursed Metaverse avatars.
Meta has sunk billions of dollars into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of his digital fiefdom, poised astride the future of the internet. At an all-hands meeting, Zuckerberg announced that the coming “battle for control over the metaverse” will be a philosophical war between Apple’s “walled garden” and Meta’s “open standards.” But when Meta relaxed its Facebook account requirement for its VR headsets, it just swapped out one method of data mining users’ lives for another.
This union with Microsoft is just another transparent power and data grab, and Microsoft is playing right into Meta’s hands. Mr. Zuckerberg, I am calling you out onto the rug. You’re just fine with the new Internet being a walled garden — as long as it’s your walled garden.
Office and Teams Won’t Legitimize Zuckerberg’s Metaverse
Teams meetings are already obnoxious. You know what’d make them better? Being forced to do your whole job in Teams, with your boss’s legless Mii avatar. Preferably while wearing a VR headset so you can’t see your coffee mug. Especially if you had to buy the VR headset from the company that handed your entire web presence over to Cambridge Analytica, so they could get paid while political consultants manipulated your vote. Not just your Facebook data. Every scrap of data they could find, on every site they could deploy their plugin to mine it. Meta is still throwing money around today, trying to make sure Zuckerberg never has to testify about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in court. It’s as if they know they did something they could really get in trouble for.
Zuckerberg stood up before Congress in 2018, and said with a straight face that Facebook collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.” Meanwhile, Facebook content-moderator employees were getting PTSD from face-tanking an unending stream of vile, graphic, awful stuff I won’t even name here, just to prevent Facebook from becoming a black hole of scams and porn.
Facebook’s own engineers don’t know where user data goes once it enters the company’s labyrinthine data storage systems. What’s more, they don’t even keep documentation on their database code. In a recent hearing for the class action lawsuit related to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, a Facebook engineering director told the Northern District of California, “Effectively, the code is its own design document often.” Their whole argument before the district court is that their data management system is such irredeemable garbage that Facebook simply cannot affirm that it will comply with data security practices. It’s like when Tucker Carlson defended himself by saying no reasonable person would ever take him seriously.
But don’t worry. It’ll be different this time.
Even Meta Employees Can’t Stand the Metaverse
Nobody likes Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. Even Meta’s own employees don’t use the product. Why? According to Meta’s VP of Metaverse, Vishal Shah, the problem is that Meta just isn’t eating enough of its own dog food. “For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this pretty clearly,” he wrote in a leaked internal memo from September. “Why is that? Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time? The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
Shah went on to describe the Horizon onboarding process as “confusing and frustrating.” Evidently, Horizon struggles to retain users, because so few come back after their first experience. So, Shah wrote, the team should focus on “introduc[ing] new users to top-notch worlds that will ensure their first visit is a success.”
That reads like a breath of fresh air in the form of constructive criticism. But wait: there’s more. In a follow-up memo a couple of weeks later, Shah said that employees still weren’t using Horizon enough. Consequently, he said, the company was making a plan to “hold managers accountable” for making sure their teams use Horizon at least once a week.
“Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds,” Shah continued in the memo. “You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build so you can interact with our community.”
In other words, drink the Meta Kool-Aid. Peer pressure your friends and colleagues to drink it, too. You’ll love it, if you just work hard enough to love it. Make yourself love it. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.