, November 30, 2021

The Metaverse gets soul for generation Z in China


  •   4 min reads
The Metaverse gets soul for generation Z in China

The Metaverse is taking off in China supported by an app called 'Soul App' but is this what generation Z needs?

It's happening; you might not like it, but a Metaverse social media platform now has 100 million users in China.

The Metaverse is created by an app called Soul and is targeted at Generation Z.

In this Metaverse, your avatar is your identity; you can be anonymous and unrestricted by the social pressures that permeate the real world. You are free to express yourself in any way you like — presumably within certain parameters.

The app was launched in November 2016 in China and passed 100 million users in February 2021. Soul App, the company behind the product, describes it as an intelligent, mind-based social network platform.

How does the app work?

First of all, users create their own avatar to shape a new virtual persona and to cite Soul App, to "keep a comfortable degree of separation from their real-world appearances and identities."

Then they have to complete something called a soul test which the company — bizarrely — compares to a "Sorting Hat at Hogwarts." The test assigns each user a planet, thereby congregating users into like-minded communities. And then, users communicate with each other using text or voice calls. Apparently, the app has something called gravity interest tags and a voice recording self-introduction.

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Anonymous

An important feature of soul app is that the users have the option to be anonymous.

Soul App likens the product a "tree hollow" and says users are "free to express themselves authentically and safely." It also says the app shelters  "its users from the mounting pressure that often comes from an intricate maze of social relationships in the real world" in a "judgment-free social playground."

In other words, users can be whoever they want to be, and take on personas, and presumably genders that are different from their real-world identity.

It says the social platform "accurately recommends chat rooms that might appeal to users based on their profiles."

Usage

"On average, Soul users checked the app 21 times with a usage time of 49 minutes per day. In addition, the platform recorded an average of 66 peer-to-peer messages per person daily, even higher than some of the instant messaging products."

'Friendships blossom'

Users can "leave comments; start a private conversion; the list goes on. In this way, friendships develop and blossom," states Soul App.

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In the Metaverse, can anyone hear you scream?

What are the implications? We know from existing social media applications that people often become exaggerated versions of themselves when shielded from the social rules that underpin direct communication. In the real world, they punctuate their daily social intercourses with words like "please," "thank you", and "excuse me." It feels different on social media. We all know someone who can be a bit obnoxious, but that is more like the norm with social media. People who in a normal conversation might express views that say veer slightly to the right or left often take to social media and become many degrees more extreme.

Divorced from direct human contact, otherwise, mild- mannered, apparently considerate people, can return from a day spent mingling with others, a day in which politeness is their default form of behaviour, please, thank you and excuse me the currency of their face to face interactions, and release their venom, fingers gliding across their computer keyboard, expressing their rage like warriors engaged in a war dance
Extract from Living in the Age of the Jerk.

We evolved to be a social species. According to Robin Dunbar, evolution equipped us with the tools to have meaningful interactions with no more than 148 people at any one stage in our life.

The rules of social engagement are either hardwired into us by evolution or, at the bare minimum by social evolution, creating a structure geared to re-enforce a certain social framework.

When we enter the Metaverse, especially when we are anonymous, everything changes.

Social media represented a massive change in a social system that was moulded by our evolution and experiences by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The Metaverse pushes this change even further, creating the biggest scale social experiment in history. Who knows what the results of this experiment will be?

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