Why we need freedom more than restrictions
The subject of today’s blog post is inspired by the newest Machinima of Tutsy Navarathna. It depicts how we grow into a more and more controlling society in RL as well as in virtual spaces. And how that cannot be a good thing. We need freedom more than restrictions because that’s the only way we will evolve and can access our full potential. I like the movie a lot for focussing on the importance of protecting our freedom and how we should resist against so called protectors like Mark Zuckerberg who tries to implement a safe Metaverse, whatever that is. It implies a Metaverse can be safe, while we all (should) know by now nothing that exists in virtual space ever will be safe in ways of free from risks to be harmed. He again presents a platform with focus on his own ultimate control over others and their limits and freedom, promoting it as the wonder world we all need. The name: Horizon worlds. The Mark Zuckerberg Horizons yes, fixed ones that never will change a view on how wonderful it is to monetise human behaviour and control their behaviour.
We live in a world of Big Tech that has changed and will continue to change our lives. Like with many changes there always is a good and bad side to it. Technologies like the Internet have improved the world to be connected in a revolutionary way we all embraced when it came to us. It opened new worlds of information and new ways of socialising, promising only benefits with idealistic views on how it would improve our well-being.
Many years later we now all face the downsides as well and how potentially good technologies also can lead to abuse and the downfall of ethics. How it can mislead and addict and how it steals time away from how we used to entertain ourselves. We all have started to read less books, kids play outside less and our eyes seem glued to mobile phones to not miss anything ‘important’. If something has penetrated our minds in a way that feels like unmissable it has to be this virtual extension we all have added to our daily routines. And it is not surprising how that can feel both great and horrible. Because it easily can be too much to handle or too complex to handle. If you look at how many people also seek inner peace in all kinds of ways with life coaches being a new trend to need, to survive modern times, it tells enough on how humans seek a way to control their own ocean of interactions and information they are exposed at every day of their life.
Meanwhile Big Tech will do all to control your control. They are not interested in improving your life as they state to aim when presenting their newest technologies as your new needed improvement of your life. That app or software will send data that helps them to earn money. Or their product will be hijacked by users who benefit from spreading fake news, false informations and use scam and fishing strategies to gain power and control. To not even mention the various online personal harassments like bullying, hacking, involuntary sexual exposures and whatever more that also come with every app and software created for social use. Cyber security will be needed more than ever to not lose all trust in cyberspace to be an okay environment to interact in. A healthy distrust is at its place I would say at the least. To not believe all that is spread and to not limit a view to the gods of the Internet who have gathered their disciples and flocks to follow them and who never question anything. The opposite, to question ALL and distrust ALL, sounds more logic maybe, but like with most things a balance between both is better.
Potentially good still leaves space for also really being good, despite the downsides as mentioned. And it is okay and even recommended to use and implement all of that as far as I am concerned. Just yes, we always will have to be aware that any potentially good Big Tech product can become a weapon of control as well sadly enough. Be careful what to use and how to use it. Monitor yourself before others monitor you. When money and power start to contaminate brains it will cause humans to lose control over their own infinite greed. They need control over others to feed their own control greed. And they know how easy it is to manipulate other people’s brains with being smart in marketing a product as something wonderful or launch it for free, knowing people will get trapped into it eventually. With Facebook being one of the main players in that field of control it is scary to see how it panics the world when on a rare occasion it goes down for a couple of hours. As if being cut off from Facebook means your life has ended . . .
Facebook’s newest project seems to be perfect for that kind of braindead humans. Mark Zuckerberg has been creating his own version of a Metaverse, called Horizon Worlds. And because he wants to ‘protect’ us from sex, like he does at Facebook as well (one nipple and you’re banned), it will be a Metaverse without sex. At least that’s what he thinks (aka pretends) what will happen when it is officially forbidden and also not being facilitated with adult content or options to create adult content. Apart from that being controlling and silly, it also will not work. Sex is not something you can forbid really when people interact with each other. It always will happen, with or without official approval and with or without facilitating it (a penis and vagina on your avatar, adult animations etc etc). Because sex is a mind thing more than needing that virtual penis/vagina or adult pose. Give people the opportunity to simply chat with each other and sex will be part of it. If not allowed in public it at least will exist in private IM’s. Vice shared a good article on this. I quote some of it:
John Carmack, former CTO and current consultant at Oculus:
“My worry is that we could spend years, and thousands of people possibly, and wind up with things that didn’t contribute all that much to the ways people are actually using the devices and hardware today,” Carmack said. But the way people are using VR now is a lot more fun than the Disneyfied, corporate vision Facebook has for its Metaverse: they’re in virtual social platform VRChat generating their own worlds and avatars and running around as anime cat girls, in Second Life creating sex-positive clubs, or watching VR porn—an industry that was once expected to be VR’s “killer app,” and is still growing.
Wherever people gather online, some of them will want to fuck, and where there’s a way to text, talk, or gesture, they’ll find a way to do it. So what will Facebook’s Metaverse be without sex? If virtual worlds are meant to reflect the wildest dreams of away-from-keyboard societies, sexuality is an inextricable part of that. In meatspace, sexual speech and sex industries can be squashed under conservative attempts at controlling the populace, but it doesn’t go away. In digital realms, it can be banned under community guidelines, but users find a way to eke it out somewhere else—in private channels and rooms or locked forums.
In a demo interview with the Facebook founder, the first thing CBS anchor Gayle King says when she enters virtual reality and turns to face Zuckerberg is, “You’ve got freckles on your nose!” “I’ve got freckles in real life, too, so just trying my best with the avatar,” he replies. By implying that the coolest thing about their Metaverse is the ability to directly replicate your physical self in the virtual world—creating a parallel universe, instead of an alternate one—Facebook is missing a major draw of online embodiment, for most people: the ability to be weird as hell online. A fan edit of the CBS interview, where Zuckerberg says “check this out” and two huge breasts spring from his avatar’s chest, is extremely funny but also shows how people often choose to inhabit virtual worlds. Not boobs per se (well, a little boobs), but the freedom to express themselves however they want.
Angelina Aleksandrovich, founder of sex-positive virtual reality community RD Land:
The whole beauty of the Metaverse is the chance to step outside of our human bodies and real world identities we choose or, depending on circumstances, are forced to live in. We no longer have to comply with the biological nature or a lack of resources to self-express our inner being as we wish,” Aleksandrovich said. Letting users choose mutable, anonymous avatars has been important to the kinds of virtual spaces she wants to encourage—where it’s safe to talk about sexuality, gender, kink and pleasure. “In our spaces I witnessed people like that coming out as queer in their late 50s and 60s, confronting and sharing their repressed desires and old traumas, but also things they never told anyone fearing the judgment,” she said. “They may not be ready for this healing in the physical world, but they can allow that to happen in the virtual space because they know that at any point in time they can change the name and the look of their avatar and no one will ever connect the dots that it was them.”
New name for an old habit
Who still dares or chooses to trust Mark Zuckerberg anyway I sometimes wonder. But I fear many just don’t care when they can get a free or almost free play garden that tells them all is perfect. His name change from Facebook to Meta is not a coincidence of course. It is to distract people away from the bad name Facebook now has and trying to create a new empire, free from official complaints. A ‘Look how well I mean to be’ strategy . . . I only want to connect people . . . . yeah sure. It is just a new name for an old habit: collecting data and making money. I quote again, this time from Vice as well as Vox:
Vice podcast: This wide-ranging conversation starts with Rose’s recent piece, “Zuckerberg’s Meta Endgame Is Monetizing All Human Behavior”, but it gets into the deeper and systemic issues around machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the kind of future we want.
Vox: And if you’re already concerned about Facebook’s impact on privacy, the Metaverse would open a new world of data sources that the company could track: finger movements, facial movements, and in the future, potentially brain reading. While Facebook has shut down the facial recognition tech it once used on its main platform, it said it will continue to potentially use it in the Metaverse, as my colleague Rebecca Heilweil reported earlier this month.
The safety bubble
And as proof of how forbidding something never will stop actual behaviours you should read the article below. Sex will happen, both with consent and with no consent. Because yes that last part of course also exists, like in RL. If it exists more in virtual worlds than in RL I do not know, but it at least is easier to escape it by disconnecting yourself with one mouse click and I myself would not really make a fuss of it in an official way when it would happen to me in SL. I consider it something stupid and pity such a person. In RL the impact would be way different is what I mean to say with being or feeling sexually harassed. On the other hand I can imagine when being sensitive for it due to having had a bad RL experience with sexual assault/abuse, it maybe has a bigger impact, triggering the RL trauma. Having different standards for what is okay and not okay also matters. We all have personal limits. Plus everything is as real as it feels, simple as that. And we all know how real SL is to us, so any other Metaverse will be not different. Here is the article on how also Horizon worlds already is involved in sexual assault, despite the SAFE SPACE claim Mark Zuckerberg likes to promote. It is a false claim and not realistic. Like no sex is not realistic.
Officially launched a few days ago, “Horizon Worlds”, the Metaverse of Facebook (Meta), is already at the heart of a controversy. A young woman, who participated in a beta-test session before the official launch of the platform in November, recounts having suffered a “sexual assault” within this virtual reality universe.
In a post on the official Horizon Worlds Facebook page, the user describes the facts, revealing that her avatar has been touched by another avatar, reports The Verge. “Sexual harassment is already something serious online, but being in virtual reality adds intensity to this type of event. I was not only fiddled with last night, there were also other people who supported this behaviour, and made me feel isolated in this space ”, detailed the young woman.
Additional note: Meta’s internal review of the incident found that the beta tester should have used a tool called “Safe Zone” that’s part of a suite of safety features built into Horizon Worlds. Safe Zone is a protective bubble users can activate when feeling threatened. Within it, no one can touch them, talk to them, or interact in any way until they signal that they would like the Safe Zone lifted.
So, Mark Zuckerberg’s safety consists of activating a safety bubble. Like wearing an astronaut suit to not get killed by a toxic environment. It basically means he acknowledges there will be sexual behaviours and other behaviours that are tagged as unsafe. Then I say . . . teach people how to deal with that instead of denying it exists and faking a safe Metaverse. No one has learned much from denial and protective bubbles like overprotective parents in RL. We need experience and trials and errors, and yes that means we will meet sex and bad stuff as well. The use of the word bubble I find interesting in this perspective. Bubbles have the tendency to be fragile and burst. Ironic choice of word for the Safe Zone activation in Horizon Worlds. But okay, it is just a word. I prefer my own bubbles anyway :P
Well done Tutsy
So yes, for all of these reasons I like the new Machinima made by Tutsy. I hope he will post it on Facebook :P And this blog as well. My blog contains no nude, so it should be safe enough. His machinima visuals will however be on the edges of Mark Zuckerbergs Horizon, very dangerous and unsafe. I even saw some sex . . .oh oh. I like to end with one more quote. On how we always will meet a double faceted identity with tech and with that also in every Metaverse. Because behind all tech are humans, the most double faceted species that exists.
Frank Kaufmann, president of the Twelve Gates Foundation, said, “I have no special worries any more than when they invented an ax to chop wood. Tech allows human badness to gain strength and power, to be more harmful and destructive and to cause more suffering and pain with each new tech development. At the very same time, the very same tech could be used to amplify our ability to do kind acts and to do good. The same tech China uses to record which stuffed animal my two-year-old daughter currently is playing with could as easily be used by compassionate geniuses to save her life in a moment when she otherwise wouldn’t have stood a chance. My worries are just the perennial ones. Tech gives bad people power to be worse. It gives good people power to be better. I worry that there exists a world of tech geniuses who don’t know right from wrong and good from bad. And there is a world of tech users who’ll sell their soul for a giggling emoji.”