I found the Metaverse to be the most intriguing part of Snow Crash. It is astounding how much of the Metaverse is reflected in many current online entertainment programs, like World of Warcraft and Second Life as discussed in class. Stephenson has created an entirely believable future culture that is heavily rooted in technology because we are already seeing aspects of Snow Crash in today's world, like the aforementioned online games. There are people all over the world who are engaged in alternate lives on the internet in various MMORPGs and online communities, mirroring what people do in Snow Crash by using the Metaverse. For me, the idea of being able to create a completely new persona of your choice and then enter another world is simultaneously cool and disturbing. It is obviously cool because you can do things in the Metaverse that you cannot do in reality. The possibilities of what you can do in the Metaverse are essentially limitless â€“ as long as you have a good imagination and skill with programming, you can create whatever you want. For example, in Hiro's case, he can unleash his sword fighting abilities on other people without worry of consequences and even fit himself into sword fighting rankings. In addition, you can also completely customize your Metaverse persona, called your avatar â€“ "Your avatar can look any way you want it to, up to the limitations of your equipment. If you're ugly, you can make your avatar beautiful. If you've just gotten out of bed, your avatar can still be wearing beautiful clothes and professionally applied makeup. You can look like a gorilla or a dragon or a giant talking penis in the Metaverse. Spend five minutes walking down the Street and you will see all of these" (36). Thus, the greatest appeal of the Metaverse is giving people the opportunity to choose how they want to live and be whoever they want to be. Ultimately, though, while I think having some sort of virtual reality like the Metaverse would be cool in some respects, I feel that many aspects of the Metaverse are disturbing. Usage of the Metaverse sparks difficult questions, the main one being what is the point of being in reality when you can do whatever you want in the Metaverse? After all, "Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse. It beats the shit out of the U-Stor-It" (24). I suppose the Metaverse is nice for people who are not satisfied with their lives, but at the same time, escaping into the Metaverse only perpetuates their real life problems because instead of devoting time towards managing reality, they can escape into virtual reality. Furthermore, social stratification occurs in the Metaverse too, making it a sort of fool's gold. Although there is freedom to customize your avatar in the Metaverse, wealth is required for sophisticated avatars. Consequently, the real life social status of people can be deduced through how nice their avatar looks â€“ for example, "When white-trash high school girls are going on a date in the Metaverse, they invariably run down to the computer-games section of the local Wal-Mart and buy a copy of Brandy. The user can select three breast sizes: improbable, impossible, and ludicrous. Brandy has a limited repertoire of facial expressions: cute and pouty; cute and sultry; perky and interested; smiling and receptive; cute and spacy. Her eyelashes are half an inch long, and the software is so cheap that they are rendered as solid ebony chips" (37). In the end, people run to the Metaverse for the promise of a better life there, only to encounter the same problems that they face in real life. The wealthiest people in reality are still dominating the Metaverse, getting into the best clubs and owning the best property. It seems that the Metaverse amounts to mainly a potentially harmful distraction to people, sucking away them away from real life to false hope in a virtual life.
By Its_Knucklepuck_Time - Posted on 8 April 2008 - 3:00pm.