It’s hard to go online these days without seeing someone yelling about the metaverse, whether in rapture or derision. Depending on whom you ask, it’s the inevitable future of the Internet or a billionaire’s flight of fancy; a gaming utopia, an “infinite office,” a brand strategy, an NFT playground, a sci-fi illusion. Virtually every news outlet—including this one—has published articles attempting to make sense of it all. The noise around the term “metaverse” is now loud and constant enough to render it almost meaningless.
So what, exactly, is the metaverse? Why did Mark Zuckerberg make it his new life’s work, and why are other tech companies pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into their own competing visions? What role will cryptocurrencies and the blockchain play in this future? And most importantly, how is any of this going to impact your life?