My Physical-Digital Self: Exploring the Detrimental Effects of the Metaverse on Relationship & Identity Development
Date of Submission
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
2022 Sophia I de Castro
The metaverse, which is the next iteration of the internet--an immersive, virtual world--poses a threat to the essential human need for healthy relationship and identity development. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of isolation and virtual socialization led many to prefer physical experiences, despite society’s overall dependency on and connectedness to the internet and technological devices. Framed by Maslow’s hierarchy of human psychological needs, Turkle’s analysis of the human relationship to earlier forms of virtual reality, and Foucault’s principles of caring for and knowing the self, this paper argues that the metaverse will be detrimental towards developing participant’s relationship and identity, because of its inability to satisfy needs for substantial relationships, in comparison to physical experiences, and because of its production of a virtual self that inhibits self-actualization. The analysis of the major players in the origins, the present-day, and the future of the metaverse, such as Second Life, The Sims, Fortnite, Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, Unity, and Decentraland, reveals that these companies are not prioritizing and facilitating healthy relationship and identity development in their metaverse strategies. My gallery installation project, My Physical-Digital Self, helps conclude the paper, serving as an artistic expression and manifestation of the ideas explored in this paper. Despite the hype and innovations around the metaverse, this technology is at risk of replicating the harmful effects of virtual engagement on relationship and identity development, which already existed and were especially realized as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
de Castro, Sophia, "My Physical-Digital Self: Exploring the Detrimental Effects of the Metaverse on Relationship & Identity Development" (2023). CMC Senior Theses. 3188.