Fear of change: why do we fear the Metaverse?

Fear of change: why do we fear the Metaverse?


In 1800 the first novel was written. 100 years later came the lift. Around 1910 it was the turn of the first car, the first radio broadcast and the first film. From 1970 onwards, research started to produce the first PCs. Finally, in 1990, the Walkman entered the windows of many technology shops. 

What does all this have to do with the Metaverse? Apparently nothing, but psychologically everything. 
We are prepared to believe that if we were to survey a large sample of people, when asked "how do you feel about the advent of the Metaverse?" The answer that would dominate the rankings would be fear. 

This is the same response that went for all the inventions listed a few lines ago. Novels were accused of fostering dangerous ideas in the heads of the 'weaker', women and teenagers, as well as distracting from serious books, such as school encyclopaedias. Fingers were pointed at lifts (this one really makes one smile) as the cause of uncontrollable crimes and brain Fever, an unknown brain disease due to the surge in levels causing fever and dizziness. The Walkman seemed the most dangerous of all: it was accused of de-educating, isolating and leading to social diseases. (The statement 'Music will save our souls' was put on the back burner for a moment).  

Fear of change

One of the oldest stories in the world, then: everything we do not know makes us afraid, including the future. In psychology, this phobia is called neophobia or Metathesiophobia, or fear of the new. While it may appear to be an apparently unmotivated fear, it is almost the norm: it is an unconscious attitude that goes back to the primal human instincts, which recognise as safer what they have already experienced, as opposed to what they have never experienced, which instead appears insecure and unstable. In psychology, that attitude that manifests itself when faced with a choice and which leads us to direct ourselves towards the situation we are most familiar with is called the 'salvation mechanism': it is an innate defence system, entirely instinctive just as animal instinct is.



Coming back to us, if we translate this mechanism into technology, it would not only be a brake on progress, it is also meaningless: just as change is not predictable, neither is it predictable what could happen if everything remained as it is. Would people live better? Would people be content with less? Would people spend fewer hours in front of a virtual world? No one can know.

The only thing we do know is that fearing change is only human, because it is precisely when it confronts us that it forces us out of our comfort zone (out of what we know by heart) and leads us into a dark zone of new ideas, new concepts and nothing known.

There is one thing, however, that on the contrary we can know with certainty: as of today, the technologies of the Metaverse and all that they are related to (Blockchain, Digital Twins, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality devices) are generating great strides forward in many fields, starting with the medical one. The doubt about this world is tangible and entirely justified, but so is the progress it is bringing.

The emotions generated by the Metaverse: from high expectation to disillusionment

Over the past year, the Metaverse has made its way into our minds, our brands and our social networks, presenting itself as a being that is not yet well defined but at the same time has a thousand faces. This was also noted by the Observatory of the well-known Ogilvy agency, which measured how over time this technology has been able to provoke many different sensations in the user. 

Initially it created the so-called 'vibe' that every technological novelty brings with it, which soon turned, especially after some speeches by Mark Zuckenberg and experts in the field, into a really high expectation. The initial thrill boom is waning, however, and according to statistics we now find ourselves in that strange state of disillusionment common to all new inventions: when a few sore points come to light or a few factors that are not so new, or when this new technology, or rather, the precise definition of it, is slow in coming. 

What then causes this nebulous panorama? Various reactions. 

To this day, a large part of the population still fears it, because it is still too unknown, but an equally large part is curious - they would trade one of their Saturday evenings to enter this world straight away (or perhaps, they are already doing so). 

What lies ahead, finally, as the third phase that will follow the state of disillusionment? This very graph illustrates it for us:


ogilvy2 (1)

Between technophobia and neophobia: how to overcome them?

Very often, the fear of novelty is identified in only one area, that of technological novelty. Just think that The Chapman University Survey on American Fears revealed that Americans fear technology (especially artificial intelligence) more than death. 

This could be a similar case to the fear many express towards the concept of the Metaverse, which translates into questions such as "but what will happen to human relationships if it's all virtual?" "But what good is an online brand if I can't try on a dress? How much money do I have to spend on the metaverse, and how do I earn it?" "But why do I have to trust a world I cannot touch?" And many others. Let's get one thing straight: these doubts are entirely legitimate. Firstly because nothing is defined yet, so there is still a lot of confusion. Secondly, because there is still very little education about it. 

What we can advise you to overcome these fears (an advice that applies to all phobias in general) is to make yourself willing to learn. 

Thanks to education, many things we don't know can become clearer and more concrete to us, many applications of the metaverse may even make you think that it is a good idea, that it could really simplify many aspects of our existence, from health to work. In this video, for example, you can discover some of them: 



Looking back at the initial graph, we see that the step after the fear zone is the Learning zone: it is there that it becomes essential to acquire new skills, to try to find data to support each new thesis you are faced with, and to develop adequate problem solving skills. 
Remember that to learn something so immense from scratch, you can make three small (big) moves:

- Go at it in small steps 
- Have fun 
- Learn the language that everyone is starting to use: first find out the etymology of the word Metaverse, and try to understand the meanings of everything that goes around it, such as the words Blockchain, NFT, Crypto Currencies.

Who knows, we may realise that to solve certain kinds of problems, technology could be nothing but an asset.

In conclusion, everything is new, nothing is new: we are faced with completely normal reactions, to which we should be accustomed, but no, cognitive psychology is the first subject to claim that we never get used to novelty so easily. In any case, we can only be positive about the changes that have been taking place over the last few years (or perhaps it would be better to speak of months, even weeks) and the technological research they are entrusted with. As any mentor and/or trainer would say: trust in the future always pays off. 

How about you? What scares you and what would you like to learn more about this new way of experiencing the online world?  Ask us for a free consultation: we are here for you! 


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Published on 15 December 2022