The metaverse will enable you to be who you want, regardless of physical restraints or considerations. It will allow individuals to explore their identity in ways never possible before. The more we Step into the Metaverse, and the more the physical and the digital worlds converge, driven by continuous advancements in (digital) technologies, the more fun the world will become. It will result in unique niche communities that come together either virtually or phygitally (with some joining in-person and others digitally).
Already, there are fascinating examples of niche communities that indicate what we can expect. As I interviewed Konrad Gill from NeosVR for my new book, he explained to me that furry communities on the NeosVR platform organize hugging parties, and they like to hug each other in virtual reality. Or there was a Japanese group that organized virtual sleepover parties during the pandemic. They created a digital house, a cute place, and organized pyjama parties where they literally slept in the virtual world together to beat the loneliness of the lockdown during the pandemic. Nothing stops people from coming together if they have a shared identity in the virtual world.
Of course, there will be various groups and organizations that will oppose this identity exploration, and there will be digital communities that will restrict exotic identities from participating, but they will not be able to close Pandora’s box now that it has been opened.
A Cambrian Explosion of Identity
I am looking forward to a Cambrian Explosion of identity and creativity in the upcoming Imagination Age. It will make both the virtual and physical worlds more fun. Imagine if you would meet up with your friend in the physical world while being geographically apart, and she would show up as an imaginary creature projected as a hologram in your living room using your augmented reality glasses. I am sure it would result in a lively and fun discussion that would make both happy.
Of course, there will also be some rules and regulations as to what is allowed or expected, and NFTs will likely play an important role. Some communities might only allow you to enter if you have a Bored Ape as an avatar while going to work, and meeting your boss as a Bored Ape might be less of a good idea. In the end, it will all depend on the rules set by the communities you interact with. Some companies won’t care how you show up virtually for work, and it could potentially help during brainstorming sessions if everyone shows up like an animal. In contrast, others would require a more realistic digital replica for professional meetings. Then again, there will be metaverse spaces that only allow low polygon human-like avatars, such as The Sandbox or Roblox, while others opt for more alien-like avatars or animal avatars.
Users will have different identities in the metaverse depending on the (virtual) setting, similar to the physical world. In real life, with your friends, you behave and dress differently than in a business setting. The same applies to the virtual world. Depending on the community you want to go to or join, you would dress your avatar differently or select a completely different avatar. However, the exciting aspect of using an avatar to portray your identity is that you are no longer bound to your physical identity.
In the metaverse, you can be who you want to be, and digital fashion will play an important role. You can be a purple flying centaur dressed as barbie, a blue man with a burning head, or Bowser from Mario Kart; you are only bound by your creativity. We can expect humans to explore new identities in novel ways, further redefining what it means to be human.
If you want to know more about how identity will change in the metaverse, you can order my new book: Step into the Metaverse: How the Immersive Internet Will Unlock a Trillion-Dollar Social Economy. (Available already as an eBook, and the hardcopy is coming on June 8).
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