Culture Hack

Putting the "me" in Meta

Meta’s major layoff announcements for the first time since its inception has many wondering if David has finally tackled Goliath. 

Now I know you’re thinking, “not another reference of the small man wins against the corporate giant,” because let’s face it, the internet has enough of those. But Meta’s (formally known as Facebook’s) recent news does beg the question: Has the social network’s monopoly finally gotten too big and mainstream to engage authentically with consumers?

This has become the rising question for both creative beings and brands who want to tap into meaningful exchanges (particularly with those who fall within the Gen-Z demographic). However, the concept of the “metaverse” is not new, and, put simplistically, is just cyberspace; tech platforms like Microsoft and Meta have built virtual worlds that, although they mimic reality, are, in fact, an escape from it.

And with the world increasingly on fire and safe spaces becoming less and less, this escape is attracting the most creative generations yet.

So, if Millennial and Gen Z audiences are going into the metaverse to escape reality, is there space for brands to have a meaningful exchange if the whole concept of a “metaverse” is to escape the world around them? Probably not. 

Meta’s story may be a case study of ‘brand want not meeting a consumer need.’ But, as we all know, sales keep these platforms alive. However, it does ignore the fact that the underlying concept of a metaverse is to build a world that gives the user comfort and allows them to create the utopia they deserve and not be bombarded by the things that may not bring them joy.

As an introvert, I’m thrilled by the concept of a forever utopia; as a strategist, I’m aware that’s not reality (pun intended) and cannot go on forever. In fact, most users of virtual environments are only partaking in small doses, leaving little room for authentic engagements that could lead brand loyalty.

So, what’s the solution? Who knows? That’s for Meta to solve, for us to experience. But in the meantime, it sure is fun to think about.

-W. Sky Downing