Are your Mikes lit? • The register

Something for the weekend The man next to me is acting weird. He sits up straight and looks straight ahead, he holds his hand, palm out, at the level of his face.

“You don’t have to raise your hand, Mike. It’s not Zoom, haha,” laughs the chairman of the meeting.

Mike remains motionless, stiff as a board, hand still raised, saying nothing. So we ignore it and continue the discussion.

Something like that was common in conventional virtual meetings in 2022. But now we’re doing it in the metaverse, sitting next to what appears to be a three-dimensional person whose internet connection has crashed, which makes me feel a bit comfortable. It’s like being invited to a Day of the Dead dinner at the Mexican morgue in the Metaverse.

It is doubly alarming when it disappears. Even though everyone in the conference room knows that there is no real conference room and that we are just virtual 3D representations in the metaverse, Mike’s sudden disappearance startles our avatars. It will take some getting used to.

Just as real life doesn’t translate well to remote on-screen calls, remote screen calls don’t translate well to metaverse meetings. It would have been better to go straight from real life to 3D life, but now it’s too late. Too much baggage was added along the way.

I noticed this when entering the now mandatory waiting room before the start of the meeting. In the pre-pandemic era, you could come to a meeting in the real world, walk in, and sit down. Or if it were those 8am stand-up meetings that are so popular with inadequate project managers, I’d still sit down. he h. But these days we have to chop into purgatory before we can enter, as if we were waiting for a dentist appointment, except without copies of Reader’s Digest or an outdated Ikea catalog for fun.

Before the pandemic, no one gave me a list of rules when I walked into an actual meeting. No one told me to make sure my name was correct. No one asked me to tape my mouth when I wasn’t speaking. No one felt obligated to remind me not to flash the other attendees. But since the era of Teams/Meet/Zoom, all that mandatory net community baggage — and more — has been dragged into the metaverse.

The insistence on real names is a disgrace in itself. I liked the early Zoomers, in which genteel business leaders appeared on screen inadvertently for the first half hour as DRTYMUTHAFKR through the intermediary of their teenagers.

As I lounged in the waiting room for this metaverse meeting, I was presented with a copious list of dos and don’ts to tick off in a 3D clipboard with a 3D pen. Real name [tick]† No scary heads [tick]† No offensive language [tick]† no weapons [tick]† Don’t forget your pants [tick]†

I attribute this in part to a poor upbringing. I left school armed with rudimentary tools for everyday interaction with people and my immediate environment, but I feel like it’s no longer mandatory in the curriculum. Everything needs a silly guide these days.

Mrs. D bought shoes this week and they came with instructionsincluding the wise advice, “Try on shoes before you buy, as the wrong size can lead to blisters or other problems”, and the must-have “Use in slippery areas may cause the wearer to slip or fall”.

Photo of an instruction card with a new pair of shoes

click to enlarge

By the time I was done with the checklist in the waiting room—the last items were “Don’t put yourself in your stomach repeatedly,” “Don’t gargle your watches,” and “Don’t wear shoes in a slippery place”—I was allowed to to enter the conference room itself.

Piped muzak started playing when I entered. After a years-long hiatus where it was considered rude for a website or app to automatically play audio whenever you landed on one of its pages, unsolicited music is back in fashion. † Not just in restaurants and patch stores, pop shit is now blaring from every shopping website you visit, and it’s a total cacophony everywhere you go in the metaverse. If only someone had warned people what a stupid trend this was in 2022, but now it’s too late I guess.

In the present, my meeting continues without Mike, which is a shame because he brought us all the documentation to read. One of the advantages of metaverse meetings is that you can read a document while chatting with your colleagues, just like in real life, instead of throwing everyone against the wall or hiding them completely every time a document goes full screen. shared. Mike had brought the documents and put the 3D virtual sheets in a 3D virtual stack on the 3D conference table for us to pick up and read.

But when it froze, so did the doctors. We can’t turn the pages or even put bloody things on the table. Which page each participant views is in our hands.

Another participant interrupts the conversation by waving his hand (the pasted page flaps in the wind): “Excuse me, Mike just texted me. He says he’s back in the waiting room. Can someone let him in?”

Mike appears again. The documents we hold are released for a few seconds—we all mumble “Ah, well…”—before they are snatched from our hands and thrown back onto the pile on the desk. We will contact you and take our copies back.

Mike apologizes for giving up and blames the poor WiFi in his kitchen. He assures us that he has moved to a place in the house with a better signal. It’s confusing because he’s sitting next to me like before. He also sits across from me, which is odd. The two Mikes speak in unison.

“Oh yeah, sorry,” the Mikes say. “I thought I’d log in with both my phone and my tablet, just in case. Listen, I wanted to say something…’

Both Mikes are very quiet. We are waiting. We listen to the ambient muzak for a while. The Mikes don’t move a muscle and after a few seconds they both disappear.

“Uh… Mike just texted me again that he’s stuck in the waiting room…”

The chair, annoyed, walks to the waiting room door, forcibly opens it, holding it open with virtual Ikea catalogs. He tells Mike to come in, stop messing around and let himself in next time.

Three Mikes enter and take the available seats so that the meeting can continue without further interruption. They are silent and we try to ignore them. From time to time another Mike comes in and joins us at the table.

At the end of the meeting, a dozen Mikes are present. Three of them make paper airplanes from the pile of documents; four got up and walked out to look out the window; two others argue and call themselves “Boomer”; the Mike next to me cuts another one.

“How are we doing with the weather?” I ask, preparing a financial report that turned into a series of disastrous videos of cute cats and various idiots doing alarming 15-second dance routines.

“There is no doubt that the end is near,” the president confirmed to our mutual relief. “We have no more time.”

Those of us who should have been there get up and walk through the door, past 17 other Mikes wrecking the waiting room and into the psychotic pandemonium of the open metaverse office, where 30 other Mikes are pulling the carpet tiles, spray paint the walls, run through the bare alleys and yell “Millenial!” to the tea robot.

Phew, it’s a relief to be out.

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Alistair Dabbs

Alistair Dabbs is a freelance tech enthusiast who juggles technical journalism, training and digital publishing. If nothing else, he would like the resurgence of ugly background music in stores to be stopped immediately. The music gets worse, he says, but it also gets louder. More at Autosave is for the faint of heart and @alidabbs

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