With close to 3 billion active users every month—80% of which use it every day (mostly over-35-year-olds), Facebook is the place to celebrate and virtue signal, to shoot off political rants and express kind words, to reconnect with high school friends and secretly spy on them. I think that’s why most people have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.
Last year, Facebook rebranded to Meta. Why? Over the next 10-15 years, Meta plans to augment virtual reality technologies to create a more “embodied” kind of Facebook, where users no longer scroll, post, and “like,” but are fully immersed in a computer-generated Metaverse.
The word, Metaverse, comes from Neil Stephenson’s novel, Snow Crash (1992). The dystopian storyline involves two parallel worlds. The physical world, called, “Reality,” is controlled by corrupt mega corporations. The online, virtual world, called, “Metaverse,” is more exciting, but fraught with danger. If Paul read it, he would say, “they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself” (Eph 4:18, MSG).
Today, experts predict that Metaverse will absorb the internet and take it to the next level. No more pesky texts or emails or neanderthal phone calls! Digital holographs will pop up in front of us to deliver messages (like Princess Leia in Star Wars). Users will be able to come together in a new kind of virtual space.
“You don’t have to choose between being on your device or being fully present,” says Mark Zuckerberg. With augmented reality glasses, “imagine seeing holograms, turn-by-turn directions or being able to play chess on a table in front of you with your loved one 3000 miles away, right from your glasses.” Of course, you’ll need to create an avatar, a digital representation of yourself. For example, I could be a kitty, or a kitty warrior, or kitty warrior birthing person. The possibilities are endless!
There is nothing wrong with virtual reality. However, recent studies indicate that it’s kind of a time vampire; it distorts our sense of time.We experience “time compression” when we lose track of how much time has lapsed. So, what seemed like 20 minutes in virtual reality was actually 3 hours.
Everyone wastes time to some degree, so Paul encourages us to “redeem the time” by offering our days, our nights, our weekends, to the Lord (Eph 5:15-16; Col 4:5). “A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it” (Eccl 7:18).
Meta/Facebook theology promises to give us a more intense connection with family and friends. Will interfacing with each other’s digital holographs be more meaningful than clicking “like”? Metaverse may claim to be an “embodied virtual world,” but embodiment is precisely what it negates.
“But that’s no life for you,” Paul says, “You learned Christ!” (Eph 4:20). Being a Christian is not learning about Christ; it is learning Christ. The way you learn Christ is to hear Christ—not just hear about him (Eph 4:21). You hear him. The way you learn Christ is to be taught by God himself (John 6:45). The good news is that, if the Lord can speak through donkeys, like he did with Balaam, he can communicate to those involved in virtual reality technology.