Demystifying Zuckerberg’s cyber-Disneyland - GulfToday

Demystifying Zuckerberg’s cyber-Disneyland

Zuckerberg 1

Mark Zuckerberg

Tech billionaire and Facebook founder, acquisitor and amalgamator of WhatsApp and Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg has created a meta company called Meta which would include Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

The others will retain their names and the name of the larger company that includes these three will be called Meta. But Zuckerberg is holding out that it is not just an act of renaming the company, and that it is going to open up a whole new virtual universe, which he calls ‘metaverse’.

His idea of the metaverse is still vague but he seems to believe that sooner than later many more activities will happen on social media platforms, including shopping, conferences et al.

Some of it has already started happening as we can see in the ‘Facebook Live’ events which host seminars, talks and music concerts, and then this is recorded and made available on YouTube.

So, Zuckerberg will have to create something akin to YouTube or acquire YouTube.

What Zuckerberg is promising is some sort of a Disneyland in the cyberworld. It is quite feasible. Even though we enjoy Disneyland, we do not want to live in it.

We want to get back to the real world after our brush with virtual reality (VR). Zuckerberg, the businessman, is trying to pull us into his ‘metaverse’, though much of it remains to be constructed.

The desire of the new generation of technopreneurs to mechanise, robotise everything including out daily lives has something ominous about it.

It is no doubt science fiction made real, but it is also more dystopia – a nightmare – than a utopia – the dreamland. From Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Zuckerberg, we have these pioneers who are leading humanity into the next phase of civilisation as it were, away from the real and more towards the virtual.

Of course, it would be foolish to reject everything they are offering. We must pick and choose from the many wares they want to sell us.

Consumer is king should not remain an empty slogan. The ubiquitous Windows has made many things easy and so did the Apple’s Mac as well as its iPhone.

Jobs more than Gates has literally placed the world in the palm of our hand. Though we are distracted by the ease of living our quotidian lives with the help of Windows, Mac and iPhones, we want to get back to the imperfect real world of human beings.

Zuckerberg then cannot play the role of the Pied Piper of Hamelin and lure us away from the real world.

There are of course real concerns about the information that he, wittingly and unwittingly, gathers about us when we use Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

And he pretends that he is concerned about freedom and privacy while his business enterprises are slowing eating away those very invaluable rights.

Are all these technopreneurs like the Janus-faced Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Robert Louis Stevenson’s prescient short story, generous and enlightened like Dr Jekyll and the very evil incarnate like Mr Hyde? Zuckerberg and others like him are also standing in the position of Mephistopheles, the representative of Evil, who tempts Dr Faustus with unlimited pleasure to be followed by eternity in hell. That is what has come to be known as the Faustian bargain.

While Zuckerberg should be free to create and sell his many wares, we should beware of the things he is offering and we should not allow ourselves to be led astray.

We must exercise the freedom, and this is a moral exercise, to choose what is right and good.

We cannot blame Zuckerberg for misleading us. We should know what to reject and what to accept. The ultimate responsibility is ours.

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