A Dystopian Dream

Can the Metaverse really be the next step for education?


Your alarm clock rings in the morning. You get out of bed, ready for the school day to begin. Instead of going outside to wait for the bus, you put on a virtual reality headset to instantly transport to your school. In the blink of an eye, you’re inside a computer generated classroom with a variety of avatars and holograms. 

This is exactly what tech billionaire and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg imagines for the future of society. For those who are unfamiliar, the Metaverse is a digital world composed of VR headsets and augmented reality. This concept is not new—living a digital life has been explored through pre-existing video games such as Second Life or the Sims

Zuckerberg has already stated its benefits for entertainment, working from home or talking to friends. But the question inevitably turns towards whether schools will be able to access the Metaverse in the future, and whether or not it could be a possible path for educators to explore.

On the surface level, it sounds appealing. Participants will be able to access meetings from the convenience of their room, without sacrificing interaction with others in the process. With the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have already had experience with remote learning. Using virtual reality in classrooms can introduce a new way of learning; students would be able to interact with their environments in entirely new ways.

However, Zuckerberg’s announcement has been met with widespread backlash, and rightfully so—the Metaverse is a terrible idea. 

Imagine the dangers that can be exposed through virtual reality, where you’re unable to simply walk away from the screen because it surrounds you on all sides. Digital security breaches are only going to be exacerbated through the Metaverse, and the costs will be even worse in an environment that blends virtual and real interactions together. 

There have already been trends of “Zoom-bombing,” in which hackers disrupt unsecured online meetings with obscene material, typically resulting in a shutdown of the session. Over half of the Internet’s female users have reported being a victim of online abuse, adding to the previously established issue of cyberbullying in schools. 

Moreover, people are inevitably going to be turned away by the countless difficulties that come from implementing it. Data harvesting, micro transactions and advertising would be prevalent everywhere; being inside a virtual world doesn’t mean freedom from corporations taking your personal data for their own gain. 

The excitement of being inside the Metaverse will be completely drained within a couple months of having conferences, going to work and attending school virtually daily. 3D avatars and holograms can never fully replicate the subtle body language or facial expressions that a person has. Online conversation isn’t the same as talking in-person; resorting to staring at a screen for human interaction can make someone feel completely isolated from the world. 

And those weaknesses don’t even touch upon the initial investment needed in order to join in, which isn’t worth it in the long run. People will need to purchase costly thousand-dollar headsets and equipment, unlike an app that can be easily downloaded for free. It’s simply unrealistic for schools to afford such equipment on a large scale for its students, and making the change could take years. 

The Metaverse has incredible potential in the future, but right now it is a concept that is better left for science fiction books and shows to explore. Facebook’s vision is a poorly executed one that glosses over several glaring issues in an effort to push their idea of the future onto an audience. At large, people prefer to live out their actual lives instead of turning towards a cheap copy. Technology is not the solution to every problem, and attempting to implement it in places where it’s not needed ends up being more detrimental than beneficial; sometimes, paper is simply better.