In the Metaverse, the Perfect Date Might Actually Exist — If You Can Find It


screenshot of metaverse dating feature for inverse

When I first tried to make friends in the metaverse, it didn’t go well. I put on my Oculus Quest VR headset and fired up the Horizon Venues app, hoping to go to my first virtual concert — Billie Eilish’s set from the 2021 Governors Ball festival had just been released in VR.

I made an avatar that looked like me, with shoulder-length blonde hair, glasses, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, and materialized in a virtual foyer. But before I had chance to make my way to the door with Billie’s face on it, someone with a male avatar with pale skin, short black hair and a deep voice began shouting my name repeatedly, grabbing at my avatar with one hand and wildly waving their other hand in front of me. I instantly forgot how to both block people and how to move around without feeling dizzy. Once I finally escaped — by scuttling into a corner — I desperately wanted to leave and throw up.

But listen to Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse, and you’d believe it’s a utopia. The reality is more concerning, with reported cases of VR harassment, hate speech, and child grooming already circulating. Since my own encounter, I have used my VR headset again, but only for solo experiences — to play a 3D puzzle game, to go on an International Space Station tour, and to experience a nature documentary that took me to the bottom of the ocean from my bedroom.

A year on, the memory of my first social VR encounter still gives me a headache. But I also know some people have formed meaningful friendships in the metaverse, and even transitioned virtual relationships into real-life partnerships. Do I need to feel wary about meeting people in VR spaces? Or do virtual worlds simply mirror the complexities of real world social interactions, where both harassment and genuine connection coexist?

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google