Strangest Things You Can Buy in the Metaverse
OK, so, what is the Facebook metaverse, anyway? The metaverse is the internet experienced through virtual reality — and all the associated products and services that will be associated with this "new internet."
While the Facebook metaverse is proving to be the most popular one, it’s not the only metaverse. Any company can build its own metaverse with the right technology and the right servers. The hope, however, is that eventually all these systems will interconnect into one singular digital experience that augments and improves reality.
You may have already heard of people buying real estate in the metaverse or buying NFTs. But there’s a lot more in the metaverse for sale than you might think. These are the strangest things you can buy in the Facebook metaverse.
On Rarible, Taco Bell launched seven pieces of one-of-a-kind taco-inspired NFT art. These aren’t real tacos. They’re not even virtual reality tacos.
But they are unique tacos that you can buy, for as low as 1.75 Ethereum (ETH.) As of March 2022, that’s $5,275.04 in U.S. dollars.
The Dark Side of Virtual Tacos
Well, insofar as tacos can have a dark side, the dark side of these tacos is probably that you can’t eat them.
And you could just right-click and save them instead of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on them.
Metaverse is considered part of Web 3.0, which is a new envisioning of the web as a decentralized, virtualized space.
Part of the metaverse is that it has its own currency, actually hundreds of them. The metaverse doesn’t use the U.S. dollar. It uses cryptocurrencies.
These currencies are also investment vehicles that you can purchase through the metaverse.
The Dark Side of Alternative Currencies
There are a few problems with cryptocurrencies.
There are so many of them that a lot of them are pump-and-dump schemes with wildly volatile values. And a lot of them actually hurt the environment. "Mining" cryptocurrency uses a lot of energy.
But there will need to be some kind of digital "credit" system if everyone is going to operate on a universal standard.
If you thought pop-ups were annoying, just wait for metaverse billboards. There are already companies that are gearing up to sell digital ads in virtual space.
There are few things as inception-like as a billboard selling NFTs inside of a 3D virtual city.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Billboards
Who wants gigantic, flashing virtual billboards in their face? Well, unfortunately, you probably don’t have a choice.
Just as ads have become ubiquitous in the online world, billboards are probably going to be ubiquitous in the virtual world.
In fact, you might even have to interact with them to stay logged in.
Metaverse Event Spaces
The company Party Space has raised $1 million to operate virtual events in the metaverse. It makes sense. Throughout the pandemic, many people were connecting and communicating online.
But events like seminars don’t need to stop if they can happen in virtual reality.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Event Spaces
No one really knows how the metaverse is going to be adopted.
There’s a general idea that it’s going to be through Facebook’s Oculus Quest, but there are 12 different VR systems and they don’t integrate with each other.
So you could spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on a metaverse event space that your employees won’t even have access to.
Virtual Real Estate
You can already buy and sell virtual real estate in the metaverse. But while the real estate is virtual, it isn’t made up.
This virtual real estate is analogous to the real world, in a sort of "mirror world" that exists only online.
You can purchase the Taj Mahal, Mount Rushmore, Eiffel Tower and more.
The Dark Side of Virtual Real Estate
No one really owns the "digital version of the Taj Mahal." It’s all down to which system becomes the most popular. And they know that.
You could purchase the Taj Mahal on 18 different "digital world" services, and only one of them is going to become widely adopted and wildly profitable.
Are you willing to take the risk?
Virtual Office Space
Companies are already hard at work developing metaverse office space. In the metaverse, you should be able to work with your coworkers as though you’re in the exact same office.
Virtual offices will be built and designed just like real ones, but with significantly less overhead.
And you’ll be able to work with people from anywhere in the world.
The Dark Side of the Metaverse Office
You won’t be able to escape the metaverse. The metaverse office is a great way to improve productivity, but it also means you’ll never truly be "home."
Still, with remote work becoming more popular, this might be a great way to continue working remotely while still getting all the benefits of being in the office.
Metaverse Grocery Stores
Eventually, you’ll even be able to buy groceries online. A lot of people are already using Shipt or Instacart to order their groceries.
But you could stroll down the aisles of a supermarket, select your groceries, and have them automatically delivered to you.
And this can be extended beyond grocery and into general retail.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Grocery Stores
In some respects, this is just a duplication of effort. If you’re selecting your items in real life, someone else is selecting them in the physical world.
And whether or not you feel that you need the "experience" of shopping in a virtual grocery store is also really questionable.
It may be easier to pick up your phone and make some selections.
Metaverse Car Dealerships
Car dealerships are already gearing up for the metaverse. Recently, disrupters like Carvana have started selling cars directly to customers online.
But in the future, you may be able to log into a virtual reality dealership, select the car you want, and get it shipped right to your door.
You might also be able to buy the virtual versions of these cars for your avatar.
The Dark Side of VR Car Dealerships
Right now, you can log into Roblox — a game for kids — and get the full Hyundai experience. It may be that this type of thing makes advertising too ubiquitous and too difficult to deny, especially if it starts targeting younger children.
Still, it could also make it a lot easier for you to get a car without the unpleasant experience of walking into a physical dealership.
Art in the Metaverse
Of course, most people have already heard about NFTs. But what NFTs really are, at this point, is art. Rather than hanging art on a physical wall, you can hang art on a virtual wall.
Art in the metaverse is being sold for millions of dollars. People get unique rights to digital art in a way that was never before anticipated.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Art
Just like tacos, you can just right-click and save. There’s really nothing stopping people from taking and "stealing" metaverse art, because what you’re really purchasing is the right to call that art yours, rather than the art itself.
If you’re really trying to get an investment that’s going to appreciate in value, you are likely to experience issues.
Education in the Metaverse
There are already companies gearing up to sell school in the metaverse. Students will be able to walk through a virtual world (an alarmingly low-poly virtual world, if the screenshots are to be believed) and experience learning as though they were, well, somewhat in real life.
Education in the metaverse could easily resolve some of the problems that students today are experiencing with a lack of engagement during remote learning.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Education
When education first moved online, there was a huge problem with non-accredited universities. That’s probably going to be an issue in the metaverse, too.
Will you trust your children to attend schools in a virtual environment that’s outside of your control? Will you be able to trust that your virtual college credits are more than just an NFT?
Digital Clothing in VR
How do you interact with people through the metaverse? As a digital avatar.
You’ll likely be able to customize your avatar however you want, but just like with online games today, you’ll probably have to pay for customizations.
That’s right, you may need to buy digital clothes to go along with your real clothes.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Clothing
On the bright side, this is optional. You don’t have to decorate your avatar. But it’s probably going to become the norm.
How will you feel when you’re forced to purchase digital sunglasses to keep up with your crew?
Pets in the Metaverse
What’s the first thing people usually do when they jump into a multiplayer video game? They buy a pet. And that’s going to be true in the metaverse, too.
Pets in the metaverse aren’t going to be restricted to dogs and cats, either. Imagine a world in which you can own a unicorn or a dragon.
The Dark Side of VR Pets
VR pets tug the heartstrings. And they’re probably going to tug the wallets, too.
What happens when your VR pet gets sick? What happens when you need to get a new hat or coat for your VR pet to be happy?
There are a lot of monetization angles here, and none of them may be as healthy for people as a real pet.
Events in the Metaverse
In addition to event spaces, events are also being held in the metaverse — like the Sundance Film Festival.
Rather than traveling halfway across the world, anyone could tune into the Sundance Film Festival as though it was happening in their own home. While you could watch it online, the metaverse made it feel as though people had a presence and were actually there.
It’s likely that there will be movies, concerts, and even sporting events in the metaverse.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Events
Attending events will now mean that each event is a worldwide event, and that could easily lead to inflation.
It may be that only the richest among us will be able to go to the most sought-after events, and those who are in depressed or third-world economies will never be able to get a chance.
On a broader scale, it also means that people may start losing out on the experience of meeting together in real life.
The Dark Side of VR French Fries
Once, you could order a pizza through "World of Warcraft" by typing "/pizza" into chat. That wasn’t good for anyone involved, except perhaps the pizza company.
Being able to stay home all day and digitally walk into a McDonald’s to purchase a cheeseburger is probably the worst thing to do for our current society.
Digital Instruments in VR
Some companies are now selling digital instruments in VR. These are essentially synthesizers that could be used within the metaverse to create all-metaverse bands.
If you want to jam out with your friends across the world or become one of the most famous virtual reality bands, well, you’re at least a step closer.
The Dark Side of Virtual Bands
There’s an uncanny valley issue here, isn’t there? Japan already has a number of "digital artists" out there who aren’t real. They’re holographically placed on stage, and they sing with voice synthesizers.
Who’s to say that the next world-famous pop star is even going to be someone real? And will real artists be able to compete with perfection?
Get a Panera Sandwich in Cyberspace
In addition to McDonald’s, Panera has also filed trademarks and started to work with NFTs.
While it’s not clear how far that will go, it’s very possible you’ll also be able to visit a Panera, order, and get your meal delivered to you without leaving virtual space.
The Dark Side of the Healthy Side
OK, Panera is probably a better health option for you than McDonald’s. But it still may not be healthy to order food from inside of a virtual world.
The problem with being able to order food on demand is, quite frankly, that some of us may never leave the house again.
Virtual Workouts in the Metaverse
Let’s forget about the junk food for a minute. The metaverse could actually help you get healthy.
Virtual workouts are likely to come to the metaverse as a way to keep people exercising, even if they aren’t doing a lot in real life.
It may be more motivating for people to work out in a game than work out in real life, especially if they’re running from zombies.
The Dark Side of VR Workouts
No one’s going to argue that we shouldn’t be working out more, especially when McDonald’s is on the digital corner. But it can be very, very easy to hurt yourself without proper supervision, and someone who is looking at a VR avatar of you probably isn’t going to be able to correct your real-life form.
If you’re as clumsy as me, the VR workouts are going to last about as long as it takes me to trip on a cord in my living room (not long).
Weddings in the Metaverse
Want to get married in the metaverse? You can. You can even buy a wedding.
In some respects, a metaverse wedding is just a destination wedding. You might even save money. The entire thing can be recorded, and you don’t have to purchase a real dress (just a digital one).
Weddings in the metaverse could be a great way to ensure that everyone in your family can be there.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Weddings
You could marry someone you’ve never met. Maybe that’s OK, but more often than not, it isn’t.
Weddings also tend to come at a premium, so while a metaverse wedding might be the cheap choice now, it’s probably not going to be the cheap choice for long.
Some people believe that metaverse is going to revolutionize the travel industry. Why fly to Cairo when you can experience Cairo in VR?
Once VR starts to become indistinguishable from real life, there will be limited reason to actually go on vacations. And that means that the entire hospitality industry might have to change, from real hotels to VR hotels.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Travel
There are some things you can’t experience except in real life. Metaverse travel could make the world a lot more insular.
A major concern is how this could actually impact the hospitality industry, as fewer people will be traveling overall.
It’s possible that many hotels and restaurants could shut down entirely.
Metaverse Plastic Surgery
It’s coming. Some are already discussing the ability to provide consulting in the metaverse.
Plastic surgery can get introduced to the metaverse in two ways. One, through virtual avatars. Perhaps not a big deal.
But two, it could be used to consult for very real plastic surgery modifications.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Plastic Surgery
It’s hard to see the bright side of this. While people will be able to get a more realistic idea of what plastic surgery can do for them, it may also incline a lot of people who don’t need surgery to get it.
People may experience dysmorphia because they don’t look like their virtual avatars, or may feel like they have to get surgery so that they can be as attractive as their avatars.
Your First House in the Metaverse
It’s not just the Taj Mahal that’s being sold online. People in the metaverse have to live somewhere.
While that may not seem strictly true, it’s become true. Companies have popped up that are selling plots of land on which you can build and develop.
So you won’t just be paying for the digital land, you’ll be paying to create, upkeep, and build a digital house. Even if you can’t afford a real one.
The Dark Side of Metaverse Housing
There’s no reason housing in the metaverse has to be monetized, but it is being monetized and aggressively. People will, by the very nature of humanity, start to tie their self-worth not only to their physical houses but their metaverse houses.
This could ultimately prove to be a very dangerous game as people find themselves spending real money for fake land.
And speaking of houses.
Furniture in the Metaverse
It’s inevitable that the furniture industry is going to move into the metaverse. Yes, they’re going to sell digital furnishings.
But also, like Walmart, furniture stores are considering building virtual, metaverse showrooms for their products. Imagine being able to see exactly what a couch looks like before you get it shipped to your home.
Still, the greater concern is how much money might be spent on virtual furnishings.
The Dark Side of a VR Couch
Ultimately, a huge issue is that the metaverse creates consumable objects that aren’t real, that are essentially valueless, but that could become a huge time and money sink.
People could spend literally thousands of dollars furnishing a home that exists only in digital space. And what happens if it digitally "burns down" (gets deleted)?
Companies are moving toward providing insurance for the metaverse. So, soon, you’ll also be able to purchase insurance in the metaverse for your digital objects.
It has to be done. Once NFTs started being worth thousands of dollars (and could be deleted in the blink of an eye), an insurance company had to step in.
It’s not well adopted yet, but it likely will become well adopted as the metaverse grows.
The Dark Side of VR Insurance
It’s probably best to have insurance if you’re purchasing a lot of digital goods, although, again, this does indicate that you will be purchasing a lot of digital goods.
Likely the darkest side of VR insurance is how difficult it’s going to be to prove that you were digitally robbed by a digital robber of your digital goods.