More Meta Problems

Written for somewhere that rejected it, so I posted it here. 

Founder’s Letter, 2021 (First Draft)

We are at the beginning of the next chapter for the internet, and it’s the next chapter for our company too. 

A wise man once said that the next chapter isn’t the end of our company, or even the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning, which makes it still the beginning, so if you think about it, this is the beginning of the beginning of the future for our company, which is the most exciting place for us all to be. The most exciting place is one that doesn’t exist yet. 

In recent decades, technology has changed the way that we as people connect and express ourselves. Before I started Facebook, people could only communicate face-to-face, or by letters, or using the telephone, or texting which is kind of like using the telephone I guess if you don’t like talking, or using telegrams, or smoke signals, or asking their friends to talk to you. Sometimes I guess you could get on television and people would watch you, if you were famous enough. My point stands: before I started Facebook, it was as if we were cavemen waiting for me to invent fire. We couldn’t do anything. 

But then I invented Facebook, for all mankind despite what The Social Network says. When I did that, technology got so much better. We didn’t just type text, we got phones that could take photographs, so we could suddenly see pictures. Connections got faster, allowing us all to pivot to video. The potential to share misinformation with impacts ranging from trivial to life-threatening just kept growing. And that’s just the beginning. The beginning of the beginning.

The next platform will be even more immersive — an internet just like the holodeck on Star Trek, but one that relies on products that we manufacture and own the rights to. A holodeck that we can profit from as we move into the future. We call this the metaverse. Don’t worry, the name will grow on you.

In the metaverse, you’ll be able to do anything you can imagine — chat with friends, shop online, work, learn, masturbate to multiple flavors of pornography — as well as multiple activities that we have imagined and monetized already for you. Experiences that you don’t fit with how you might think about computers or technology today, but which do require expensive hardware such as VR headsets manufactured by Oculus, one of the subsidiaries of meta. We were going to make a film that explores how you might use the metaverse, but realized we could just recommend watching Videodrome and The Lawnmower Man simultaneously instead.

In this future, you’ll be able to use the metaverse like you use the internet right now, but you’ll have a cartoon avatar and can pretend to be a hologram like Tupac. Imagine if you never had to leave your house, but your cartoon avatar hologram could go everywhere for you instead. You’d still have to work and pay bills but you can do so from the comfort of the extensive virtual reality set-up in your own home and without ever having to be near another human being ever again. This is the future. It’s very exciting. It’s very meta.

The metaverse will not be built by just one company. Thankfully, we are a lot of companies and you’re already using many of them. Even if you’ve abandoned Facebook, you’re probably still on Instagram, or chatting to friends on WhatsApp. Maybe you own an Oculus headset. We’re thinking about buying a grocery store like Jeff Bezos. You’d use that too. 

We take this responsibility lightly. In the past five years, I’ve been criticized a lot — I think everyone would agree too much — for not listening to users enough or listening to people inside my own company warning that Facebook is a threat to democracy and anyone that isn’t cis and white. In the metaverse, things will be different, in part because we can simply stop complaining holograms from being heard altogether. It will take a lot of work, but if there’s one thing I know about the people who work to make the internet happen, it’s that you can always give them more work. 

We’re going to make some important changes in order to build the metaverse. Not enough people are talking about NFTs and cryptocurrency, and that’s something we’re working to change. Few understand how cool holograms are, and that’s something I’m personally dedicating myself to change. Some people still think that Pinkerton is the best album that Weezer recorded, but Maladroit is really underrated and it’s not the kind of thing that people really give enough credit to. All of the company is going to be working to change that, too.

As we embark on this next chapter, this beginning of the beginning, I’ve thought a lot about what this means for our company and our identity. 

Today we’re seen as a social media company. An evil social media company that has undoubtedly done its part to make the internet worse for every single user. It’s an iconic social media brand. But we can be more. We can make more worse than just the internet. We can be better — no, we can be betta. We can be Meta. Do you see what I did there?

Our new name Meta embodies everything I want our company to be moving forward — seemingly profound but ultimately meaningless, inexplicable, and just irritating enough to provoke a negative gut reaction at the very thought of it. It’s the future I want to see, and I hope it’s the future that you want to see as well. This next chapter will be the beginning of a beginning of a future beyond anything we can imagine. Well, anything you can imagine. To paraphrase my own personal hero, I already imagined it 35 minutes ago. 

All the best! Let’s be hologram buddies!

— Mark Zuckerberg

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