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The continued acceleration and prioritization of the online identity
People need to stop taking the “metaverse” so literally. Stop getting lost in the notion that you’re going to eat digital hamburgers, spend 18 hours a day in a VR headset or purchase digital land (of which there is zero scarcity). The “metaverse” moniker is not necessarily the way you experience the digital but the value you place on the persona you’ve digitally codified instead of physically imbued. The metaverse is a perception priority shift.
Gen Z’s and Millenials are now 40% of the population and they are speaking, LOUDLY. They are speaking with their thumbs and fingers though, not their mouths. As a proud millennial myself I understand what’s happening. Our instagram perception to our followers is more important than how we actually feel. Our Youtube curated feed is a better representation of our interests and desires than what we tell our friends. For me personally, I care more about how I’m perceived through my writing on substack and my posts on Linkedin from my followers than I do about a random assortment of people in a gigantic conference hall. I’m more intentional about crafting my online presence than I am about crafting my wardrobe.
The metaverse begs the question, where do you feel most like yourself? Where do you feel like you can speak your authentic voice? For kids, it’s not at the dinner table with their parents, it’s in the vibrant halls of TikTok and Snapchat. These Millennial and Gen Z cohorts have pride of their online personas. They are proud of their posts, they are proud of their curations, they are proud of their avatars - and that’s OK. Every generation has their outlet. The baby boomers had their dance halls and boogie nights. The Gen X had their clubs and disco bars. Millennials had a bit of a hybrid with festivals and the arrival of social media and now Gen Z likely will find its sweetspot inside of a digital arena. Let’s not debate this and label it GOOD or BAD…it just IS.
The metaverse mindset brings me back to social validation and community. If the newer generations get social validation from their digital footprint, then so be it. Once again, it’s not GOOD or BAD, it just IS. As we think about communities and where we create a sense of community though, does it really matter if it’s in a church or on a discord channel? The newer generations are finding the discord channel to be a more efficient and ebullient space for their “voice.” That’s a shift for sure but it’s the new normal and we need to understand it…and label that shift. That shift has been labeled the “Metaverse.” So once again, let’s not get stuck on virtual worlds as much as recognize that the shift is an acknowledgement that newer generations will continue to rely on their digital perception as their true source of identify. That’s not GOOD or BAD, it just IS.