Last month, Mark Zuckerberg responded to the avalanche of bad press Facebook, the company he co-founded, had received the only way he knew how: He rebranded. The company had come under fire for reportedly knowingly allowing abuse and misinformation to spread like wildfire across its service. The solution? Renaming the company Meta and promising to double down on its simulation of real life by creating an actual virtual world. The reviews have not been great, and one noted critic is Bill Maher.
The HBO host used part of Friday’s Real Time to tear into Zuckerberg and a move that’s not only his attempt to dodge accountability, but which could also make the real world an even worse place.
“Someone has to tell me why we keep allowing social media, and our very lives as social creatures, to be dictated by the most socially awkward person in history,” Maher cracked. He questioned the attractiveness of Meta’s proposition. “Why spend hours typing on Facebook arguing with your brother-in-law about Ivermectin, when your avatar can yell at his avatar in person?”
Maher said he’d dabbled in virtual reality before, but in the end thought weed was a better way to numb the pains of reality. “In the Metaverse, you can tour the pyramids or have a swordfight with a duck, all without having to leave the comfort of your parents’ basement,” he joked, adding that his own experiences with virtual reality were “like getting roofied by Walt Disney.”
He also wondered if people really wanted to have another excuse to not leave their homes. “We just went through a pandemic. The last thing I want is more virtual, and that’s what the metaverse sounds like it’s going to be — the pandemic year, except forever,” Maher told the crowd.
“You have to ask yourself why does Mark Zuckerberg think living in a metaverse would be so much better? Because look at him: the dead eyes, the lack of recognizable human features, the painted-on hair — he’s already an avatar. I’m pretty sure that the person we think is Zuckerberg is a SIM, while the real one lives on a yacht staffed by a hundred beautiful women where he plays Pokémon GO all day. This is the worst kind of person to make the overlord of a new universe.”
Maher also argued that it’s not healthy for young men — who already aren’t having as much as sex as their counterparts 10 years ago — to have another excuse to avoid human contact:
“It’s not harmless. It never is when any society for any reason creates men who are cut off from women, and it’s not going well here with the incels,” Maher said. “It’s become a toxic subculture of angry, misogynistic, digital eunuchs, and the metaverse is only going to make it meta-worse, because it’s a vicious cycle. The more time you spend in the digital world, the more you suck at engaging in the real world, so the more your retreat into the virtual, which further atrophies your real social skills, including and most importantly getting laid.”
So your options are: go out into the real real world and score or sit in a chair with a headstrap and watch a concert sitting next to a giraffe. But at the very least we’re almost certainly getting a sequel to The Social Network.
You can watch Maher’s segment in the video above.