Everywhere you look, the world is debating the metaverse. The prospect of creating a whole new universe where people will be able to interact and enjoy experiences is certainly intriguing.
But the metaverse remains somewhat of an enigma we're all just trying to understand. And many companies are giving their different takes on the concept.
#TeamEarth and Saving Our Planet
While many were excited to watch February's Super Bowl match between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, we were also looking forward to the ads. Tech and media companies have always dominated Super Bowl ads, and this year was no different.
However, one ad stood out: Salesforce. The world's leading customer relations management (CRM) software, Salesforce, joined the Super Bowl to share what they believe the metaverse should be. The company enlisted the help of Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey to deliver a message about environmental conservation.
The ad, titled #TeamEarth, featured McConaughey drifting over the San Francisco air balloon and encountering SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The legendary actor says in passing:
"It's not time to escape; it's time to engage. It's time to plant more trees. It's time to build more trust. It's time to make more space for all of us. So while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, let's keep right here and restore ours."
The ad primarily conveyed a message about bringing people back to the planet and helping to save what's left of it. Speaking to reporters, Sarah Franklin, Salesforce's marketing and advertising chief, said they hoped to bring a different message than many of their peers in the tech space.
Or Why Not Just Escape Earth?
It was especially interesting since Meta (formerly Facebook) also aired a Super Bowl ad. Meta's ad featured a teddy bear that lost its purpose and eventually found it - in the metaverse.
Much debate surrounds what Meta's ad represents and how it could affect consumers, but Meta is going for a simple message here - with the world currently descending into uncontrollable chaos, the metaverse could serve as an escape.
So, we have two messages from two of the biggest companies in tech. Salesforce is telling people to come back and save the planet, while Meta is offering an escape from the forces destroying the planet - global warming, inequality, the threat of war, famine, and more.
Most folks are siding with Salesforce. Comments on the Super Bowl ad show that most viewers aren't buying what Meta is selling - a callback to when the company first announced its intention to pivot into building an immersive metaverse.
Critics were quick to call Meta out for several reasons. Most prominent was the fact that no one knows exactly what the metaverse is. Maybe it's something like the 2018 movie Ready Player One, where the human race had adapted to living in a dystopian metaverse while the world itself went up in smoke. In more ways than one, Meta is looking to bring this vision to reality. And for many people, the prospect is scary.
It is also worth noting another company called out by Salesforce - SpaceX. Like Meta, SpaceX's vision has been hit with a lot of doubt. People find it hard to understand why humans would want to move to Mars - a currently uninhabitable planet - while we could spend those billions on a few adjustments to Earth.
Space travel itself is outrageously expensive. SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other private aerospace companies promote a future where everyone can move between planets. But so far, only celebrities and billionaires have been able to go just above the Earth's atmosphere. It will be decades before space travel is accessible to the common man.
These concerns are valid, but companies like Meta and SpaceX argue that their visions can benefit humanity and the planet.