Stop the World – I Won’t Get On the Metaverse!
Professor Joe Goldblatt
I suppose I have always been somewhat of an iconoclast. An iconoclast is best defined as one who attacks or criticises cherished beliefs or institutions. My iconoclastic views were first developed by my father of blessed memory, Max Goldblatt, who in the 1960’s asked me to stand on a street corner in downtown Dallas, Texas and distribute political leaflets to individuals racing to nearby parking lots to drive home after work. The leaflets promoted his election to the city council and his major manifesto was to create a greener city by powering their official vehicles with methane gas. Although at the age of 13, I had no idea what methane gas was about, I dutifully followed my father’s direction and handed out thousands of leaflets to citizens who still cherished their fossil fuel powered automobiles.
Some years later when Papa ran for Mayor of Dallas he and I stood upon the side of a major freeway holding a large banner that announced “Max Says you Could Be Home By Now!” Papa had moved on from promoting methane gas to advocating for the construction of a Walt Disney World style monorail that would, just like the 1960’s television programme “The Jetsons”, fly citizens and visitors above the stratosphere to their final destination and thereby reduce automobile traffic below. Hundreds of horns honked with approval at Papa and I and that is when I when I realised that occasionally an iconoclast could be popular.
This is why when I heard the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg of his plan to use social technology to further seduce, virtually embrace, and permanently capture our lives through social technology that I uttered the malapropism of the famed Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn who when asked to join a club said “Include me out!”
Although I have been an active Facebook contributor for nearly ten years and through my effusiveness have found thousands of new friends, I have also discovered in recent days that the number of times my account and those of my friends has been hacked has grown exponentially. Furthermore, I often receive messages from robots impersonating my long time Facebook friends and I am trepidacious about responding to them. I find that I actually spend a large amount of time each week now notifying my friends that they have been hacked.
Therefore, I have decided to take my leave from this platform as they seek to conquer new worlds. The term Meta which is their new brand promise is derived from the Greek word that literally means beyond. Just as I shall decline an invitation, if asked, from Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos to be their guest for a seven minute space flight, I am declining Mark Zuckerberg’s invitation to follow him into the great beyond.
My reason for declining to continue to go beyond is because the offer that Mr Zuckerberg and his ambitious company appears to make is just like those folk who ring me with financial agreements that sound too good to be true. Whilst I am a major proponent of technology and have written books and articles about the use of technology to bring folk together through live events for a positive purpose, I am also suspicious and skeptical about where all of this speed of development may lead unless their is suitable regulation to restrain the greedy and nepharious activities of future rogue players.
Whilst I shall miss the daily chat and envy of other folks holidays, the annual celebration of birthdays and anniversaries, new babies, and sadly, the loss of loved ones, I also know when it is time to say adieu. Today I decided to sever ties with Mr Zuckerberg and I was duly warned by my Google search that this would be no easy separation. However, I found it was far easier than many former love affairs and just as heart breaking as Brexit. In five easy steps I was soon ready to click my delete button with the proviso that I could reunite to my Facebook friends anytime, no questions asked, in the next thirty days. However, my departure is for every good reason permanent because my father would have expected no less from his iconoclastic son.
A few months before my father died at the age of 86 he signed up in the early 1980’s with the one of the first email providers and soon was communicating with dozens of folk all over the world every day. He became so interested in technology that he signed up for a course at a local further education college that was entitled Senior Computing and he soon earned his qualification.
When I asked him why he used email to communicate rather than writing personal handwritten notes as did my mother, he quickly admonished me for being what he called “old fashioned.” He explained that his grandchildren would one day regularly use email to communicate and he wanted to stay in touch with them. He then told me that I was starting to become complacent in terms of my communications and that in order to remain fresh I must continue to be green and growing with new technologies. He then added “If you do not remain green, you may in fact one day soon start to ripen and then rot!”
I shall follow my father’s sage advice and remain green and growing, however, I shall due this in new pastures through Twitter and LinkedIn and through my personal blog at www.joegoldblatt.scot/blog. Papa, who was my first and foremost iconoclast would I am certain approve of my decision to continue to embrace technological change to enhance communications and at the same time insure that I am not being impersonally seduced, falsely embraced and occassionally violated by a metaverse that for now must remain beyond my immediate reach.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University and may be reached on social media @drjgoldblatt on Twitter and at LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/professor-joe-goldblatt-1b82b53 or his blog at www.joegoldblatt.scot/blog