METAVERSE AND MENTAL HEALTH

Envision a World for Everyone

METAVERSE – This is one of the new most talked about words in the world nowadays; it is a mysterious, unknown and misunderstood universe.

Sure! Metaverse is not built yet. It’s in the earliest experimentations and development phase. At the same time – it is a reality. A 3D virtual reality made of immersive everyday interactions where everyone will live in the next few years – some say 5 to 10 years before it becomes mainstream.

Think about our interactions with our computers, mobile phones and TVs. Just imagine what we do with these specific devices – from having phone calls (initially mobile phones function) to purchasing anything or having medical consultations and entertainment.

Where is this leading to?

Now, think about all those interactions happening inside a 3D environment, with 3D everything, using devices like glasses, and specific equipment, having the sensation of being inside that place and seeing your experiences like they are and being an avatar or a digital yourself.

By now, those and the certainty that it will be the, no way back, future are the only things that are built and are not speculations.

All innovative technologies will bring both good and bad sides to the coin. And making predictions about the wrong sides is the way to construct better this new era in order not to have to fix things after the problems are happening.

Mental Health and the Future

So, let’s discuss mental health in the metaverse.

As we enter those virtual 3D sensations, interactions are expected to be much more intense and stimulating because we will have a more authentic feeling.

The current impact of the internet, video games and social media, in particular, on mental health care is more than proof of this. It has already caused some mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and similar conditions that people have experienced.

The addiction caused by this impact has already been considered as any other addiction.

Dopamine is the hormone that stimulates the region of the brain responsible for pleasure. Video games release dopamine every time you advance towards your goal. Social media releases dopamine every time you hear the notification song or get a follow, like, comment and other engagements. Cryptocurrency trading and investing releases dopamine with every value increase. And through repetition, the brain and the person begin to rely on that experience to feel good and average.

Easy conclusion: Metaverse has the potential to cause similar scenarios and impacts.

A question of diversity

Another critical point to speculate is what I call the avatar effect. Avatars are digital toys that represent you inside the metaverse spaces. They are, by now, gamified characters that you customise as YOU WANT in most existing metaverse spaces under the options you have.

You choose your body (In the metaverses I went, the choices were all thin bodies, fats not included), your colour, your hair, between male (with male clothes options) and female (with female clothes options), your clothes, shoes, mouth, eyes, and everyone, in the end, look like a teen.

Have you noticed something? In our natural world, we have been fighting over all fronts for inclusion, self-acceptance and diversity values, along with the mental health issues caused by those biases.

Gender, race, body beauty, age, nationality. Those cultural changes have taken years and still have years to come to be transformed into natural diversity and not some character of being ashamed. All the bias being fought tends to come back as it goes the way it is going now.

What happened to identity?

Brands and metaverse worlds seem that are not even thinking about it – no diversity, no inclusion. That brings the psychological lack of self-esteem back into the game.

Considering that the generation that is metaverse native and who will be the primary users are now children and teenagers. – they won’t have enough time to develop their personality. They might still not identify themselves as individuals and unique.

But when it comes to their avatars – the avatars will be nothing more that the projections of their physical and stylish desires. They will identify themselves with and through their avatars. They will interact as someone that does not exist for real, with others that are not for real.

And guess what? They won’t have the chance to be themselves, to discover themselves, to modify what they don’t like and to accept them as they are, or to see the beauty of their individuality, just because they won’t be. They won’t have a proper chance to learn how how to live outside of the virtual world. They will believe in their fake identity. Live in a parallel world.

All is well that ends well

The good news? As everything has two sides. There is always the bright side, which is not different in the metaverse. Technology will increase health in general and mental health, which is also already happening.

The best news? We are in the exact time to speculate the worst to prevent and build a better and inclusive environment with diversity, ethics and an equal place for everyone. This is also already happening, And It’s a topic for another article. I hope to be with you again soon.

Picture of Rita Heloisa Rabello de Araujo

Rita Heloisa Rabello de Araujo

Founder, Art and creative director at Oitava Arte Web3 design agency, NFT Arts and projects.
Sênior designer, UX/UI + graphic + product + branding + packaging, product developer and artist.
Blockchain, NFTs, crypto, metaverse, web3, researcher and builder.
Head of Star Women NFT club DAO Brasil and Latin America edition.
Inclusion, sustainability and mental health advocate.
Future founder of dxpression - mental health and creators metaverse ecosystem.
Live in São Paulo - Brazil and work remote all over the world.
cooker, vegetalgarden planter and spiritualist. I wish freedom and art in everyone’s life.

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