The word “metaverse” first emerged in ‘90s dystopian science fiction novels — tech guys love dystopian science fiction, an irony akin to drug dealers loving Scarface and Italians loving The Sopranos. The metaverse has since become Silicon Valley’s latest grandiose plan for the future. It’s sort of a blanket buzzword encompassing virtual reality, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and video games. Here three distinct but overlapping forces in culture coalesce: bad taste losers, cynical hucksters, and multinational corporations. If an earlier internet’s promise to make information free clearly caused more problems than it solved, the metaverse’s proposed solution is to turn us all into aspiring intellectual property barons, constantly buying and selling ownership rights to bits of code pertaining to digital trinkets.