I don’t want to start this post by personally attacking Mark Zuckerberg’s eyes, which have in years past been described as “two weird lil black marbles” and “vacant, black shark eyes.” Who wouldn’t look utterly bereft of a soul after trying to explain the internet to the United States Senate? I also don’t need to suggest Mark Zuckerberg may in fact be a robot, since there’s an entire meme community devoted to that joke. I am avoiding these easy, obvious dunks on ol’ Zuck because his latest “metaverse” selfie looks so bad, he’s already owned himself harder than I possibly could.
Zuckerberg posted a screenshot from Meta’s Horizon Worlds on Facebook earlier this week, saying that he’s “looking forward to seeing people explore and build immersive worlds” in the VR “metaverse.” The screenshot is not just bad: it is exquisitely bad. It is ironic clipart bad. It is stock-cratering, anyone-other-than-a-billionaire-CEO-would-immediately-be-fired-for-this bad. Meta spent $10 billion on developing whatever the hell it’s doing with the metaverse last year, and all it’s got to show for it is a baby doll-faced Zuckerberg hovering in front of a miniature Eiffel Tower.
As writer technollama highlighted on Twitter, a side-by-side comparison of 2007’s Second Life and 2022’s Horizon Worlds does not do Zuck any favors.
Second Life 2007. Metaverse 2022. pic.twitter.com/2JByEzk5eLAugust 17, 2022
Nor does the unfavorable comparison to 1996 PlayStation vehicular combat game Twisted Metal:
This is the Eiffel Tower in Twisted Metal 2, which came out in 1996. pic.twitter.com/nkhG7d2ijMAugust 17, 2022
If I was the billionaire founder of one of the richest companies in the world, I would personally not advertise my revolutionary new software with a picture that looks embarrassing next to something that beat me to the punch 15 years ago. Second Life already has furries, early aughts goth haircuts and the 2007 Scion xB; who the hell would pass all that up to look at a 10-foot-tall Eiffel Tower?
Perhaps the master plan here is to set expectations so low with dead-eyed virtual selfies that when Meta does actually show something substantial from that $10 billion investment, mediocrity looks like a massive improvement. I am not convinced this is a good plan. While virtual Zuckerberg is stuck trying to express one single human emotion, Fortnite is over here just casually being the pop culture metaverse people actually want. You didn’t need to spend billions of dollars, Zuck. You just needed Goku.