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Better than the real you? VR, identity, privacy, and the metaverse

Faculty Advisor




virtual reality, human identity

Abstract (summary)

If tech-sector CEOs from firms like Meta and Microsoft, plus industry hypers and investors, get their way, then days and nights like Kentarō’s will become commonplace. This future is heralded under a banner-word the metaverse, envisioned as a blending of virtual and physical realities that will profoundly alter how people experience everyday life, from entertainment to work to relationships. Think ‘augmented reality’ (AR): So, these are computer visuals overlaid by screen or lens onto the actual world – but re-imagine this as a more seamlessly immersive experience, in which we intensify or reduce, at will, our envelopment in virtuality. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently described the metaverse as an “embodied Internet, where instead of just viewing content, you are in it” (as cited in Newton, 2021, para.11). This metaverse will depend on advances and convergences across a vast technological array: 5/6G telecommunications, computer processing/graphics, VR, AR, artificial intelligence, social media, the mobile Internet, ‘smart’ glasses/lenses, body tracking and face recognition, holograms and deepfakes, blockchain and cryptocurrency, and ‘the Internet of Things.’ If this massively, multi-user, multimedia metaverse comes to pass, there will be ramifications for everything from the economy and politics to psychology and relationships. This chapter explores implications for human identity, in three senses: psychological well-being, a deeper ‘sense of self,’ and digital privacy. In each case, we highlight negative and positive discoveries and potentials regarding existing and emergent technologies. Our conclusions are tentative, since findings on ‘virtual identity’ remain debated, and the metaverse isn’t here yet, but this chapter will equip you to decide whether you approach its subject with worry, wonder, or doubt that virtual reality (VR) will transcend niche interests any time soon.

Publication Information

Macpherson, I., & Puplampu, A. (2023). Better than the real you? VR, identity, privacy, and the metaverse. In V. Kannen & A. Langille (Eds.), Virtual identities and digital culture (ch. 15, pp. 152-160). Routledge.



Item Type

Book Chapter



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