by MIKE MAGEE

dystopian[disˈtōpēən]ADJECTIVE1. relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.NOUN1. a person who imagines or foresees a state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.

There are certain words that keep popping up in 2021 whose meanings are uncertain and which deserve both recognition and definition. And so, the offering above – the word “dystopian.” Dystopian as in the sentence “The term was coined by writer Neal Stephenson in the 1992 dystopian novel Snow Crash.”

One word leads to another. For example, the above-mentioned noun, referred to as dystopian by science fiction writer Stephenson three decades ago, was “Metaverse”. He attached this invented word (the prefix “meta” meaning beyond and “universe”) to a vision of how “a virtual reality-based Internet might evolve in the near future.”

“Metaverse” is all the rage today, referenced by the leaders of Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, but also by many other inhabitors of virtual worlds and augmented reality. The land of imaginary 3D spaces has grown at breakneck speed, and that was before the self-imposed isolation of a worldwide pandemic.

But most agree that the metaverse remains a future-facing concept that has not yet approached its full potential. As noted, it was born out of science fiction in 1992, then adopted by gamers and academics, simultaneously focusing on studying, applying, and profiting from the creation of alternate realities. But it is gaining ground fast, and igniting a cultural tug of war.

Today multinational corporations are all in. Jason Warnke of giant consulting firm Accenture sees it as a power enhancer and multiplier. He says “…we believe we now have the opportunity to bring our people together in ways never before possible in the physical world.”

Not so fast, says Esther O’Callahan, the Gen-X founder of the online recruitment firm Hundo. She says the term is“… owned by young people who care more about community than

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