Meta Verse

Meta Verse

By Teedy Deigh

Overload, 31(174):16, April 2023

What’s life like in cyberspace? Teedy Deigh turns on, jacks in, and checks out the immersive experience.

The sky above port 80 is the colour of a dead Slack channel.
It is said the future is already here;
It’s just not evenly distributed.
Our heroine protagonist looks out across the bleak landscape:
Soulless and chintzy.
If this place had weather, there would be wind.
If this place had tumbleweed, it would be everywhere.
The future is clearly distributed somewhere else.

There are few structures dotted across the imaginary plane.
They are echoes of another world,
Constructed by the power of marketing,
Hollowed by contact with reality.
This blasted realm is not a place that once was;
It is a place that never was,
Except in some far away land
Imagined as the Cold War turned to perestroika.
A retrofuturist synthwave vision of cyberpunk
That is as virtual and outdated as its name suggests,
A future that never came to pass because Web.

Satisfied that she has adequately set the scene –
And gazed sufficiently on the pixel-rendered bleakness before her –
Our heroine protagonist considers heading
To the nearest depopulation centre.
If this were a film, around now a single chord would be struck.
It would sound big, overproduced and decisive.

Our protagonist is not the heroine we deserve.
It’s not clear she’s even the heroine we need.
But we’re going to have to make do,
Because she’s all we’ve got and she’s got the keyboard.
What she needs now that she hasn’t got is a drink.
Even without libation, though, she is legless.
She looks down at her avatar.
She looks the post-apocalyptic part:
Goggles, slightly too pristine made-ragged clothes,
Non-descript weapon slung across her back...
But no legs.
She would file a bug report,
But she has neither the time
Nor the patience to fight the FAQs and Contact Us system.
Perhaps that’s what the non-descript weapon is for?
She pulls up a menu to enter main street.

She ‘strolls’ past the shops.
The unreal estate speaks of squandered budgets.
The whole place reeks of hype and VCs.
She happens across an avatar.
“What’s the value proposition here, friend?”
“Am I your friend? Did you send me a request?”
“What’s all this for?”
She waves at the branding and pop-ups around them.
At her question, he lights up,
All neon and animated,
More NPC than human.
“When here in this realm,
We shall be able to get together
With friends and family.
We shall be able to work, learn, play, shop and create.
It is the promised land,
Thus spake the Book of Faces.”
Wide-eyed and fanatical,
He’s probably high on NFTs or some other Web3 scheme.
“You just described what everyone’s been doing online for years.”
“But it’s not like this, is it?”
“No, mercifully not.
I don’t get headaches from having to wear goggles.
I just click on links and get things done instead of having to
Journey through janky skeuomorphisms.”
“You are not a believer?!”
“I believe I need a drink and some aspirin.
I believe the only place I’m going to get some is IRL.”
“Pray tell, where is that?
Is it a bar in another ‘verse?
You have been to other realms?
What are they like?
Are there people?
Are they like us? Or do they have legs?
Wait... you are going?
When will you return?
Will you return?”

Our heroine protagonist heads towards the port.
There is no reason to be found here, nor any rhyme.

Although ostensibly based in the real world, Teedy Deigh spends most of her time living in codebases and in her head. She’s not sure what to do with the unmanaged technical debt in either case but, should the debt collectors call, cyberspace is one place she could flee where no one would be bothered to follow.

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