Entrepreneur Phil Libin, who grew up in the now-defunct Soviet Union, says that Facebook’s vision of the metaconsciousness known as Meta reminds him of Communist propaganda – empty promises of an idealized future that, in other words, will never be realized.
Libin, who founded the note-taking app Evernote and is now CEO of videoconferencing company Mmhmm, offered sharp criticism on a recent podcast episode hosted by tech journalist Eric Newcomer, calling Meta’s VR world “the gloss that uncreative people and companies put on the lack of good ideas.”
In many ways, Libin expresses an opinion that many people share, despite his sarcastic tone. People aren’t particularly enthusiastic about Meta’s virtual world. Even executives at the company itself have been known to complain about the still clunky headset.
Libin compared the overblown idea to promises made by the government in the Soviet Union.
“I went to first grade in the Soviet Union,” he explained. “I was exposed to a lot of Soviet propaganda, and I was repeatedly told as a young child, ‘Communism doesn’t exist yet. We haven’t built communism yet. We are building communism.”
Despite numerous promises, this utopian vision was never fully realized. According to Libin, the same is true of Meta’s promises to create a full-fledged virtual world that could one day rival reality.
“You know, you can smell a bad idea before it’s even fully built,” he said on the Newcomer podcast. So I don’t want to hear: “Oh yeah, the meta-universe doesn’t exist yet. No, no, no, all this stuff, all this stupid, useless, trashy stuff that exists right now, it’s not a meta-universe. The meta-universe is coming – it’s coming.”
Even though Meta is less than a year old, its concept has already drawn a lot of criticism. The company’s virtual worlds are also teeming with screaming children, as Bloomberg columnist Parmy Olson noted in a recent article – even though they are technically restricted to users over 13.
According to Libin, the Metaverse is a brainless idea that is “so impressively stupid that there’s really nothing to fear.”
VR technology has made great strides in recent years, and Meta is making huge bets on its VR-enabled metaverse. But at this point, it has yet to convince a critical mass of people that it really is a worthwhile place to spend time.
Whether that will ever change remains to be seen. Critics such as Libin and even Tesla CEO Elon Musk argue that the meta-universe will never take off. Others, on the other hand, argue that soon we will spend our entire lives in virtual worlds.
But will Meta build the tools of tomorrow to turn this vision into reality? That’s unlikely, given Facebook’s abysmal track record when it comes to convincing people of the truth of new ideas and ensuring that the online space is not a cesspool rife with abuse.