Why The Metaverse Will Be Bad For Cities

The renaming of Los Angeles's Staples Center to Crypto.com Arena may seem like an innocuous promotional gambit. But it means that cities are now in competition with a seductive virtual world.

December 17, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

A rendering of a woman wearing a virtual reality headset, swiping through virtual reality landscapes.

Led Gapline / Shutterstock

"However weird cryptocurrency may seem, what lies ahead promises to be even weirder. The Staples Center deal comes only a few weeks after another California institution, Facebook, announced its intention to create the 'metaverse.” Just as cryptocurrency is money that takes place in cyberspace, the metaverse (Capital M? Lowercase m? Who knows …) is, basically, life that takes place in cyberspace. In Mark Zuckerberg’s imagination, every human will be able to work, socialize, and play in the offices, conference rooms, concert halls, and amusement parks of the metaverse."

"The trouble is, the more we entertain those fantasies, and the more time, energy, ingenuity, and capital (crypto and otherwise) go into creating them, the less time, energy, ingenuity, and capital we will have to invest in the real world. The spectacle of human suffering that the privileged world only barely notices today will become just another reason not to take off the VR headset. The promise of building a new world—especially of the type that thoughtful planners, architects, and engineers might envision—will give way to simulacra constrained only by screen resolutions and processing power."

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