Swimming in the deluge of propaganda, one might think that virtual reality is just a cool environment to play games or hold office meetings. Advertisements show sleek wonderlands and smiling cartoons discussing profits in space. But this conceals the sordid depths of what the Metaverse will produce—a playground for demented desires, from sadism to pedophilia.
A recent YouTube video spotlights an unsettling scenario unfolding in virtual space—the avatar of a scantily clad prepubescent girl dancing on a strip club stage. She grinds on a yellow Pokemon-like cartoon, allegedly animated by a 40 year-old man. Other avatars present, apparently embodied by human beings with some decency, can be heard barking protest and condemnation of the perverse scene.
The YouTuber goes on to explain that this sort of thing is already quite common in the emerging Metaverse. Much like the Internet in its early days, or the printing press before it, the dark side of virtual reality allows the nastiest fantasies to come to life. Due to the anonymity inherent in virtual environments, the Metaverse provides a “safe space” for deviant behavior.
ZeroHedge was right to warn, “Parents who bought their children the Oculus Quest 2 for Christmas could be in for a surprise as there have been several instances of child grooming within one of the virtual reality headset’s most popular chatroom services VRChat.”
As VR technology becomes more sophisticated and its use adopted more widely, this shadow realm will fill with everything from sexual abuse to ritual murder. Libertarians might argue that anything that occurs in virtual reality has no consequence, but this is nonsense. Behind these virtual fantasies are real people who are cultivating the darkest elements of their souls. The outward consequences aren’t obvious—at first—but inwardly these people will rot. When they return to the wider world, they’ll take these depraved images with them.
Plato held up three Forms as essential—the True, the Beautiful, and the Good. In virtual reality, it’s possible to convey certain simulated truths, up close, such as distant planets, intricate machinery, or microscopic protein structures. Most of the rest will be cartoonish fantasy, but even in this aspect, VR will see the true nature of the human mind unfold.
Many of the fantasies conveyed in virtual reality will be profoundly ugly—games with post-apocalyptic landscapes, rotting zombies, unrelenting virtual warfare, horrific sexual sadism. But where artistic talent converges, there will also be beauty. It will be simulated beauty, accessible only through goggles and earphones, but it will be beautiful nonetheless—just as a shadow play on a cave wall captures the outlines of the human form.
What will not be present in the Metaverse, in any meaningful way, is the Good. How can real charity, real altruism, unfold in a simulated environment? How can there be real forgiveness or reconciliation in a realm where the only true sacrifices are the time and energy spent in VR that could have been spent in the physical world?
Any truth or beauty conveyed in VR will be simulated, but it will be true and beautiful still. Any goodness that occurs in VR will be purely artificial, and therefore of no real consequence.