This article was published on August 19, 2021

Facebook’s Metaverse is just AOL for people who play Beat Saber during lunch

Horizons Workrooms: For when you want to make working at home even harder than it already is

Facebook’s Metaverse is just AOL for people who play Beat Saber during lunch

One of the most iconic scenes of the Star Wars film franchise is the moment lovable droid R2D2 rolls up to Obi Wan Kenobi and offers him a virtual reality helmet.

Oh you don’t remember that scene?

It’s the one where Kenobi fiddles with the straps of his headset for three full minutes on screen before mumbling “hang on, it’s blurry. Wait. What am I supposed to be seeing? Is that Jabba the Hutt? Where’s the slider-thingy that makes the image clear? What side is it on? Oh. There it is. Ah! That’s Leia.”

Then, inside the virtual Star Wars world, Leia’s cutesy avatar emotes a scared face and says “Help me Obi… uh, am I muted? No? Cool. Help me Obi Wan, you’re our only hope!”

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Leaving an office so that you can go home and don a bulky, uncomfortable headset in order to join a meeting in a cartoon version of an office seems like a fantastic idea. 

No, really Facebook. You’ve outdone yourself with Horizon Workrooms. It’s surely the way of the future. As was made apparent in the smash Avengers film franchise.

We all remember the scene from Endgame where the Avengers are scattered across the cosmos and they all stop what they’re doing for a few minutes to fish out their Oculus Rifts.

My favorite part is when Hawkeye’s yelling at his daughter “Dammit Lila! I know you had the freaking charger last. My damn headset is dead! Are you working for Thanos or what? Go look for the damn charger Lila!”

And then they all meet up in Horizons (except the Hulk, of course. Facebook is mostly only concerned with serving the average, typical hardware user when it comes to VR accessibility).

The point: Using a VR helmet to approximate an office environment in an animated recreation while we’ve all got perfectly good webcams available is a lot like using my kid’s xylophone to play the S&M version of Enter Sandman. Sure, done right it could be pretty cool.

However it’s not an upgrade. It’s AOL, but worse. It’s a portal that takes a group of people who are already connected and forces them through a gateway to a garden where they’re slightly less connected.

It might be fun. It might be interesting. It might even be super, duper cool. But at the end of the day, a significant percentage of the population will either miss out or be forced to spend every business meeting vomiting in their own laps – do the avatars imitate those movements too?

Bottom line, a pair of AR spectacles and Apple’s AR could accomplish the same thing without making anyone sick. Holograms are where it’s at. You don’t have to be a superhero, Jedi, or tech mogul to know that.

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