This Week

Meta(verse) Comes to the Triangle

Are you bored of your average, everyday life? Do you like playing video games a little too much? Do you live in the Triangle area?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re in luck: Meta is coming to the Triangle and will transform what was once a bustling urban landscape into a complete virtual reality simulation.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, Inc., is an American technological conglomerate based in California. The company has offices all over the country, including in major cities like New York, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Seattle, and soon, our very own Durham—bringing its nationwide VR program along with it.

A virtual reality simulation may sound scary, but Meta assures us it’s merely a glimpse into a future that the world is already careening toward. The company is working on a project to create a “metaverse” through the use of virtual and augmented reality, a 3-D space where you can socialize, learn, collaborate, and play in ways never imagined before. By putting on a special headset or other wearable technology like smart glasses, a violent thunderstorm can instantly become a beautiful summer day, a boring night in your house can become a front-row concert with friends, an angry letter from your landlord can become a calming poem in your hands.

With rumors swirling that Meta is setting up shop in Durham, many residents are concerned about the unavoidable and astronomical increase in housing costs already seen with the arrival of other tech giants like Apple and Google. Real estate costs have increased by 25.8 percent since April 2021, according to April 2022 statistics, partially due to the influx of California-based tech companies in the Triangle. While these companies promise to bring thousands of jobs and revenue to our cities, housing prices are only expected to double over the next decade, putting the Triangle on an even faster, no-toll road to mirroring cities like San Francisco with an extreme wealth gap and homelessness crisis.

But enough of all that whining and back to the exciting stuff: if your real, day-to-day life gets too hard because of the arrival of this $600 billion–plus corporation, you can just step out of reality and hop into a VR paradise with no money problems to speak of at all!

According to an inside source (let’s call him Zuck), Meta will begin by setting up massive virtual reality programs one Triangle town at a time. Each resident who lives in these towns and cities will need to purchase or rent a $400,000 virtual reality headset. That may seem rather pricey, but with the benefits that the metaverse will bring, local leaders promise that it will be well worth it. Plus, this is only the average cost of a headset—there may be cheaper headsets available to rent or buy (although with Meta’s new office in Durham, prices are estimated to go up from here). If you don’t have the means to afford this headset, you will have no option but to leave the Triangle and move someplace with no Meta office (or with cheaper headsets).

Meta’s mandatory VR program will start off tame: everyone in the Triangle will be required to go into the metaverse for 10 minutes every day or face hefty fines. But from there it will escalate to a full-on virtual reality takeover, with Meta upping the requirement from 10 minutes to 45 minutes to hours on end—and, eventually, most residents will find themselves living in the virtual world more than they live in the real world. Meta wants it that way.

You may ask: How can this be happening? Isn’t this unfair to the people who can’t afford headsets who are being forced out of their homes and the Triangle? Is Meta trying to brainwash us into becoming entranced with a false reality while their company ruins our actual reality?

Well, studies show that widespread, mandatory VR simulations actually make people happier long-term. Any problems or stressors that feel inescapable in the real world can easily be eliminated with the help of Meta. For example, instead of going outside and worrying about higher-than-normal temperatures and extreme weather events induced by climate change, you can just go outside in the metaverse and enjoy a crisp 78-degree summer day with no sweltering heat (or sweltering guilt about the climate injustice that is currently faced by underserved and under-resourced communities. Win-win!)

So thank you, Meta. Those of us with generational wealth who can afford to buy headsets and stay in Durham can’t wait for your arrival in our beloved city. While the real consequences of your arrival will be colossal to many, the VR world will remain as peaceful and sheltered as always, and will brainwash—I mean, help—us to forget the problems that plague the “real” world.

In the INDY’s “Best Multibillion Dollar Corporation to Turn the Entire Triangle into One Big VR Simulation in Order to Escape the Consequences of Their Actions on Reality” category this week, let’s just say Meta swept the competition. 


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Comment on this story at backtalk@indyweek.com.

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