Technology

Metaverse Is Just a Souped-Up Version of Internet Communities With Dalton Main

Metaverse Is Just a Souped-Up Version of Internet Communities With Dalton Main

MP spoke with Dalton Main, who has a Doctorate in physical therapy and a background in nutrition. Main’s entrance into the metaverse world started over a year ago with his introduction to cryptocurrency. His position is to help and educate people to overcome disease and injury. Main’s objective in the Metaverse/Web3 space is to educate and inspire healthy living and promote lifestyle change to prevent suffering.

Editor’s note: Dalton Main is not a licensed mental health professional.

Dalton Main
Dalton Main / Photo courtesy of Dalton Main

Mental Health and the Metaverse (The Good)

How will the Metaverse empower socially oppressed groups, and how can such empowerment affect those group members’ mental health?

The Metaverse offers a unique opportunity to maximize the power of close-knit social groups. Oppressed groups will have a place to socialize with each other. Similar to Facebook groups, communities within the Metaverse will be “safe places” for those who feel uncomfortable in the physical world. 

Ultimately, the Metaverse presents a place to feel less alone.

How can the Metaverse empower individuals to be honest and open about who they are, and how can such empowerment affect an entire generation’s mental health?

Generally, you are rewarded for transparency. 

This reward is elevated in the Metaverse.

Honesty runs in high regard in a space rampant with scams and anonymity. 

You see groups forming around nearly any niche, struggle, or social cause. When you find your people, you feel as if you can open up more around like minds. 

Opening up to others online becomes the social norm within these tight groups, making a generation comfortable with being honest about their beliefs and feelings.

Can the Metaverse effectively serve as a medium through which socially distanced individuals develop meaningful connections and, if so, how can this benefit those individuals?

This is no different than what has happened with increasing internet activity. Those who would consider themselves introverted or antisocial would be misusing the definition. These individuals find themselves playing video games and socializing with people within the game. 

Relationship depth and length vary as it does in the physical world. 

Humans are social creatures. There is no dodging that. The Metaverse can serve as a medium for meaningful connections, bringing a sense of belonging to those that do not feel that in their physical lives or just want a little more.

Mental Health and the Metaverse (The Bad)

How will the Metaverse provide the means through which social bullying continues, and can the interactivity of the Metaverse exacerbate the mental anguish experienced by those being bullied?

Social bullying will exist as long as the internet is a viable option for socializing. 

One of the attractive aspects of the Metaverse is the fact you can be anonymous. With anonymity comes plenty of positive attributes with no shortage of negative ones. 

It is much easier to attack someone or shame them via social networks. We see that today on all platforms. 

Due to the fast-paced environment, the mental anguish may not be exacerbated via the Metaverse. 

Interested in learning more about the Metaverse? MP covers many areas of the Metaverse, including business, ethics, legal, and more.

Headlines come and go, and, as the space grows, this will continue to speed up. Like faithful sheep, we move to the next hot take and forget the last. 

Also, anonymity goes both ways and can be used to the advantage of those being attacked.

How can the Metaverse’s empowerment of self-expression backfire and result in greater repression?

As we see now, putting yourself firmly into one camp – living and breathing their mantras and methods – can lead you into an echo chamber of self-destruction. 

Discussion within your Metaverse community may turn nasty and shun the outsiders. 

Why would you express your true self in the real world now? 

Others wouldn’t understand you anyways, so the repression continues to compound.

How can the over-engagement in virtual interactions result in mental health illnesses, and how can we protect ourselves from such outcomes?

Again, most of what we can expect in the Metaverse is just a souped-up version of what we have today with internet communities. 

The dynamics will not magically improve. Some of the negatives will be much more challenging to avoid. 

When technology is designed to be better than the real world (let’s face it: the real world sucks), engaging excessively in the Metaverse can lead to misaligned expectations once you pull that headset off or shut down your computer.

Having a healthy relationship with this technology will take practice, education, and discipline. 

There needs to be a valiant attempt to educate the youth, and adults for that matter, on how to use these technologies in a respected manner. 

We can break it down simply: spend more time AFK (away from keyboard). 

Also, having the discipline to understand the discipline to engage in hobbies and social relationships outside of the Metaverse will be crucial.

Can the realistic nature of the Metaverse and the ability to walk away from experiences cause us to underestimate the harmful effects of oversharing, and how can such oversharing negatively impact our mental health?

The ability to connect and disconnect on a whim will not always be beneficial. 

As stated, you can quickly walk away from a “harmful” situation and lose the character development opportunity. There is no downside. 

You outwardly share about the time you wet yourself in band class after the trombone played that sweet note when you least expected it. You find it funny, so you share. 

The conversation turns toxic quickly, and you back out before you get your feelings hurt. Where is the character building there? You may decide you wish to try this out in class the next day. 

The same reaction….no backing out. You can see where this can create an environment where you gravitate towards anonymous online sharing vs. real life.

Metaverse concept
Deposit Photos

Mental Health and the Metaverse (The Ugly)

How can the Metaverse fuel a new form of social addiction, and how can such addiction spiral out of control?

You can be whoever you want to be. 

Dylan feels like a real dud in college. He goes to his classes, keeps his head down, and does his work. He despises group projects because he will be forced to converse with a classmate. 

Ew. 

He counts the minutes until he can get back to his apartment, throw on his headset, and become King_Maker, the powerful meme lord in his chosen Metaverse. 

One meme took Dylan from 250 followers to 1K, then exponentially grew to 25K and still growing! No one will even look at Dylan in class, but he doesn’t care. He can go home and have an audience of 25k laughing at his creations in mere minutes. 

Pretty soon, he loses the desire to go to class. What’s the point? 18-hour days of feeding the beast that is audience engagement is his full-time commitment. 

He is now a slave to his audience and a recluse, avoiding any real-world interaction.

Can too frequent engagement in Metaverse interactions lead to real-world relationship decay, and how can such decay negatively impact our mental health? 

100%. 

Again, when you over-engage in Metaverse interactions, you lose the desire to connect in the real world. 

You may even like yourself better in the Metaverse. Your time on screen will continue to grow inversely with your time with friends and family. 

The ultimate challenge will be a balance of both in-real-life (IRL) and Metaverse relationships. If you lose, your “real-world” relationships will devolve, and you will feel more alone outside the metaverse.

What happens to our mental health when our Metaverse relationships abruptly end, and why?

Depression. 

Anxiety. 

Depressive thoughts can invade the mind when we experience relationships ending. 

In the Metaverse, there doesn’t need to be a discussion. The other individual could dip out of a relationship with a click of a button or the sweep of fingers across the keyboard. The feelings of loss can come nearly every day if you succumb to those groups and behaviors. 

In the physical world, you do not have that kind of reach. The ability to connect with thousands can be a self-inflicted disaster if not handled with finesse.

Protecting Our Mental Health in the Metaverse

What steps can we take to protect ourselves in the Metaverse, and how will they help?

Schedule Time in and Out of the Metaverse

Making sure you take the time to mingle in the physical world will be important. There will be a great need to stay active outside of the Metaverse, and it will be challenging to stay the course without a schedule.

Limit Your Screen Time

The same goes for the present time. Limit the amount of screen time you consume so that you don’t miss out on the beauty that is physical friends, family, trees, water, etc.

Build Meaningful Relationships in Both

Love thy Metaverse neighbor and thy real neighbor. You have to understand the power of both and put actual work into building them.

Treat Others the Way You Would Treat Them in the Physical World

Have a persona in the Metaverse that mimics your real-world persona and views. If you carry yourself in the digital world similar to the physical world, the lines refrain from being blurred, and become less of a roller coaster of feelings.

Respect the Tech

Understand that the tech will be designed to keep you in. 

The technology companies benefit from your attention. 

Knowing this will allow you to understand the absurdity of it all. 

You might even be able to take a step back and analyze the Metaverse a little more strategically.

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