Listen to the full broadcast of NPR’s January 11 interview with Donald Trump and you enter the metaverse.
It becomes clear that nearly 12 months after the former president was reluctantly forced to vacate the White House, he lives (or at least pushes) an alternate reality. In Mr Trump’s parallel universe, he could never lose anything unless there were foul play.
Consider this great exercise in reasoning by Mr Trump to NPR presenter Steve Inskeep, to explain what he calls “the presidential rigged election of 2020”. In reference to the reality that he got millions of fewer votes than Joe Biden, Mr Trump said: “How come Biden couldn’t attract 20 people for a crowd? How come when he went to speak in different locations, nobody came to watch, but all of a sudden he got 80 million votes? Nobody believes that, Steve. Nobody believes that.”
There was more in the same vein until Mr Trump abruptly hung up on the interview, nine minutes into the 15-minute slot. He clearly didn’t want too much questioning of his metaverse.
Listening to the interview, you have to wonder who believes this concocted reality, these alternative facts that create a different universe that may or may not ever connect with the real one?
A fair number of people, it turns out and here’s my theory about that. Why should any of this be surprising when we are steadily pushing the idea of a parallel universe towards mass acceptance?
Remember Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talking about the “embodied internet”? That would be the one “that you’re inside of rather than just looking at” or “where instead of just viewing content – you are in it”. And remember when Second Life came into being in the early years of this century? It allowed people to create an avatar for themselves and have a second life in a virtual world. That was an alternative reality but at least it was a game, no one said Second Life was your life in an alternate world.
Fast forward to 2022 and consider the rise in un-real estate sales. Office towers are being built (and sold) on virtual platforms; millions are being spent on plots of land in videogames and on virtual planets. Someone has paid big bucks for a virtual plot of land next door to the virtual mansion of rap star Snoop Dogg.
According to The Economist, the digital-property boom will, as in the physical world, depend on footfall and people’s willingness to spend real money.
For speculators to turn a profit, they need to keep pushing the alt-reality as in some way real.
Imagine a world in which large numbers of people walk around thinking the organic lived experience is just one of many that are true.
Mr Trump’s fiction fits very well with a metaverse that doesn’t really exist in a galaxy far far away.