Yesterday I heard that a Metaverse company called Somnium Space is offering people immortality. In case you don’t know what the Metaverse is, it is basically a virtual world that people can exist in through digital avatars. In the Metaverse people can attend events, travel, build houses, go shopping, and a whole host of other things that you would be able to do in real life, as well as things you can’t do in real life such as flying or teleporting. This may seem like a fun fantasy, but it’s incredibly dangerous.
The internet is already extremely addictive. People spend hours every day scrolling through facebook posts, watching Tik-tok videos, and playing video games. These things are addictive, but they’re no where near what’s coming. Just wait until you can strap on a virtual reality headset and pretend you are in a different universe where anything is possible, and it feels totally real, almost indistinguishable from real life. That’s dangerous. Our entire world is being shifted from the physical tangible reality we exist in to a virtual intangible reality. This brings me back to the immortality idea. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve thought about the internet and how we use it is that it has become a counterfeit to actual existence. It promises all the things we search for in real life, yet it delivers none of them. Do you want human interaction? The internet can connect you to billions of people with the click of a button. Do you want adventure? You can immerse yourself in a video game where you are a superhero with unlimited power. And now, do you want to avoid death? You can pay a company to take all your personal information and create an avatar that will look and act like you in perpetuity through the Metaverse. All of the things I just mentioned are fundamental human desires. They are good things. The problem with the internet and electronics is that they propose themselves as solutions to fulfill these desires, but they can’t do it. They only provide empty counterfeits and imposters. The place we need to find fulfillment is in reality.
Building on top of that, an avatar will never be able to authentically represent who you are. People post pictures of themselves, share their favorite music, and construct their dating profiles all in an attempt to communicate who they are. People want to be seen. They want to be known. Again, the internet seems like a convenient place to do this. There’s little risk. It’s quick, easy, and safe. You can swipe through hundreds of people on Tinder and if someone rejects you, it’s easy to move on to the next one. You can share controversial political views on facebook and if someone disagrees, you simply block them. But these attempts at sharing yourself are never going to fulfill that desire of being known. You can’t hug someone through the internet. You can’t gaze into their eyes. You can’t have a child. Instead of true human connection, you externalize yourself onto an electronic device. On top of that, you are only providing the parts of yourself that you want to be seen, or even worse, the parts of yourself that you think other people want to see. The algorithms and feedback you get through likes, comments, and followers condition you to only post the things that contribute to more likes, comments, and followers. These systems are literally designed in a way that stifles vulnerability. Yet, vulnerability is the very thing that allows us to connect with people! That’s why it is so much harder to approach a person in real life. If they reject you, you are going to feel it. If they disagree with you, you have to enter into conflict right then and there. But this is how we grow. This is how we find fulfillment in relationships. Crafting a social media identity and sharing it on the internet is not the same as sharing your true self with another human face-to-face, and it never will be. It’s actually doing the opposite of what you truly desire. It’s being trained to present a fake identity. The amount of harm this does is incalculable because our identity is so integral to our happiness.
For years I struggled finding my own identity. I searched in many places; alcohol, drugs, sex, adrenaline, video games. I thought people would accept me because I would drink and party with them, or because I was doing cool, adventurous things. Yet, I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Externally I had an awesome looking life, but internally I had wounds and problems that I hid deep inside. I had broken relationships I didn’t want anyone to know about. I had preferences I thought to be weird. By trying to find my identity in external objects, I was actually learning how to hide my authentic self. I built a brick wall around my heart and kept everyone as far away from seeing me as possible. I even kept myself away from knowing who I truly was. It was only when Jesus came into my life and healed me that I was able to discover my true identity and live life with purpose and fulfillment. Through my relationship with Jesus I was able to realize that God loved me despite my flaws, and if I revealed them to Him, He would heal them. I didn’t have to gain the approval of anyone else. I didn’t have to be rich, successful, or anything else to receive God’s love. I just had to be myself. As I became comfortable being myself with God, I became comfortable being myself with others as well. And you know what? I wasn’t rejected for it. I was actually able to connect with people on a much deeper level. I started finding fulfillment in my relationships. But it only happened through going inward rather than presenting a false identity externally. I’m thankful social media wasn’t around in my younger years because it is literally training people to search for fulfillment in a place that is empty. It’s a mirage. It looks like what you desire, but you won’t actually find what you desire.
There is nothing wrong with using the internet or electronics as tools to solve problems. Surely, advancements in technology have made life better in numerous ways. The problem occurs when we start looking to them for fulfillment. They become traps that suck us in and drain us of our life. They actually do the exact opposite of what they propose. If you look at research, you will find that internet use and social media use are directly correlated with increases in depression and anxiety. Over the last ten years mental health issues in young people have skyrocketed. Many people even realize that electronic usage is causing problems in their lives, yet they are unable to give them up. This includes myself. I have been studying these things for years. I know the risks associated with electronic use. Yet, I still have an extremely difficult time disconnecting from them. I have gone through periods of fasting, totally eliminating electronic use for days, sometimes even weeks. During those times I always feel better and have more life satisfaction. I can literally feel the benefits of being detached from electronics. Still, I find myself getting sucked back in. It will start with reading an article on something I’m interested in. That will lead to me watching a video on something else. Then, before you know it, I am back to the bottomless scrolling of social media. Some may think that electronics and the internet are just necessary parts of living in the world today, but I don’t buy that. I’ve been able to go long periods of time with extremely sparse use of electronics and I got along just fine. The reason our devices seem so indispensable is not because they are actually indispensable. It is because they are addictive. They deliver dopamine hits comparable to those of a cocaine addict. When we remove them from our lives we experience withdrawal. Gaining freedom from this type of addiction is no small task, which is concerning because it is only going to get harder as these devices increase in their ability to provide pleasure. We have to slow down and examine where we are going before we unleash a beast that we won’t be able to recapture. These devices are more powerful than we think. They are like the ring from Lord of the Rings. They tempt us with all kinds of power, but end up enslaving and destroying us in the process. We think that we are virtuous enough to resist the negative effects, but we are delusional, just like those who believe they have the self-control to wear the ring of power. We believe we can use our devices for good. We believe we can win the war and save the world. Yet the only way to truly win is to destroy the ring. I don’t know exactly how to do that as far as electronics are concerned, but I believe it is possible if we begin in our own individual lives. The more people can disconnect from the virtual world and live life in the real world, the more we will be able to reverse the effects of this technological monster we have created. It is time to be human again.
With all that being said, I am writing a book on human relationships and developing a program to help people learn how to live and socialize in real life. If these are things you are interested in or want help with in your life, please enter your contact information on the form below and I will keep you updated on their development.
William Joseph Scheremet