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Love in the Digital Age: How Friendships and Romance are coming Full Circle

I’m Kelly Vero, creative badass, future-gazer, game developer, and general metaverse nerd.

As I was an early adopter of the fun bits in Web2, I have been on countless internet dates and gone through the whole nine yards of A/S/L on Yahoo Chat Rooms. I'd used everything from Plenty of Fish to

However, in the last 15 years or so, I haven't needed to do that. I guess because of that, I've probably lost a little bit of touch of how love grows in a digital age.

Now we’re diving into the metaverse, I have a curiosity. How easy is it to make friends or fall in love in Web3?

digital heart

Plenty of Phish

A few interesting opportunities have availed themselves since the metaverse became this mainstream behemoth, and for these end users: love is back in fashion.

But how are people connecting?

When I was looking for love it was about navigating from outdoor billboard to Streetmate (I’m really showing my age now). But today, the navigation is less disjointed and as fluid as the metaverse allows (which is a lot).

There are apps now that allow people to be able to connect using virtual reality for example, and one of the big issues could be, the inability to fully hold the end user. And that's fine, because not everybody approaches dating in the Tinder, Grindr, Bumble or Raya-style where they must be consistent and utilise the services of the app every single day.

One of the things that probably is quite refreshing about Web3/metaverse app Nevermet, is that it's a gateway for people to be able to have deeper conversations either in VR chat or to take the conversation to Discord (and beyond). It doesn’t mind if you go elsewhere. It isn’t a jealous god. And it shouldn’t be.

Get Real

The big whale of 2022 is BeReal. BeReal is a social site which has gained popularity throughout 2022. A daily push message encourages users to share a photo of themselves and their immediate surroundings in a randomly selected two minute window every day. It has notes of Insta but somehow feels worlds apart because it's very authentic; to the point some might say mundanity. However, what it is, is an app that fits into our lifestyle and our lifestyle currently is that we are either chained to a computer all day (thanks to the pandemic) or we're pretty oblivious to anything but walking the dog.

In short, it’s designed for everyone time-poor. Where we might previously swipe across how somebody looks or who somebody is or whether they're interesting enough for us to stan. What we might now do is look at BeReal as an even shorter window into the souls of regular people rather than Kardashians.

As a social media app, it is being used quite extensively for people to be able to connect with other people in an Instagram style, without the botheration of ungamified targeting. People looking for filtered content from the perspective of actual filters will be disappointed, this is an experiment in real images rather than selfies.

The critique of BeReal particularly from the perspective of a game developer, (that's me) is that it has a daily cycle of engagement which is great. But it is incredibly repetitive, let me explain.

When I play a game, such as Township or Farmville; though the core loop is repetitive, the experience is different pretty much every time. So for example, if I go and harvest a field, it is technically a different experience every time I harvest because there are other things to take into account. There might be eggs to pick, there might be milk to collect. In the case of BeReal, it really is the same thing every single day.

Leaving Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram behind was one of the most exciting things I ever did. I guess one of the reasons why is because the sheer banality of the system of social media was just not endearing to me anymore. Another reason is data.

When my experiences on social media started to get a little bit predictive, I was glad to release it and release myself from its prison. That said, there is no real desire for me to enter into social media with the heft, or the enthusiasm that I had in 2006/2007.

My social media needs have changed: it's nice to connect with people and maybe over time they will turn into friends but overall, it's not necessary.

Big Time Sexuality

Wait a minute, what if I wasn't sociable at all? If I had no partner, and I had no way of being able to enter into either a world of love, or a world of social connection or engagement. Step forward sex tech, which is working hard to be able to solve some of the problems that we're having as a population edging towards a totally single existence.

Vibease, famed for the remote control vibrator, has developed a unique opportunity for people to be able to not only connect with their own bodies, but also to be able to enjoy the tools of the metaverse and the Internet, particularly, which have put us in such great stead over the last few years - from audio books to long form publications.

Vibease has created an AI partner who controls your pleasure. And in doing so, it has brought about a great deal of psychological change for a lot of people. Categorisation would be obvious to describe, but that’s not necessary here. Partnerships and social engagement which can be the single most difficult experiences for wide swathes of any population will hopefully have found that this opportunity to connect with something in a safe way is more important than being social. When you think about it, this is a giant leap for future tech.

The design methodology of this principle alone allows people to learn, accept and more importantly, understand not only who they are as people but what their places in society are to a greater extent.

In the movie Her, starring Joachim Phoenix, and Scarlett Johansson, it was Phoenix’s character who fell in love with the Alexa/Google Assistant/Siri-style of Johansson’s character. In it Spike Jonze was pretty clear about the approach to Her as a social commentary on what was happening in modern relationships of that time (2013).

What's merely happening now is that this is not moving away from Her’s original intentions as social commentary. The enhancement of technology from that base requirement is allowing us to go deeper either into our psyche or into technology itself.

Yes, we might indeed have conversations with Siri, because we are lonely. But AI partnerships give us the opportunity to have solid back and forth, no pun intended with the AI partner rather than just having a discussion with a chatbot.

These new technologies have resolved and refined themselves to the point of sentience, which is both scary and exciting a prospect all at the same time.

The Future is Uncoded

It is exciting to see how Gen X, Xennials, Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha individuals will connect with technology on a higher level for the purposes of social engagement, or whether indeed, they will completely repel the idea that somehow they have to parade themselves for two minutes a day on a social media platform in order to feel engaged, or more importantly accepted as individuals.

How different this is from blind dates, youth discos and clubs of the 1980s and 90s is yet to be decided. But certainly my generation will continue at a pace with the tired, bloated and frankly dangerous social media applications of web2 just as teenagers are reported to be turning their backs on some social media entirely by simply talking to one another face-to-face or in a metaverse.


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