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.
And this is why the future, be it NFTs or Memoji or the howling existential horror of the Metaverse, looks so ugly and boring: it reflects the stunted inner lives of the finance and technology professionals who produced it. As the visual manifestation of cryptocurrency, NFT art combines the nuanced social awareness of computer programmers with the soulful whimsy of hedge fund managers. It is art for people whose imaginations have been absolutely captured by a new kind of money you can do on the computer.
— Dan Brooks, The future is not only useless, it's expensive