I had the good chance of attending the sixth SIGNIS World Congress (SWC) 2022, held at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, from August 14 to 18, on the theme "Peace in the Digital World".
The Congress offered me a first-hand experience of Metaverse. I participated in the Congress in real-time and watched the recorded version afterward.
The Metaverse is a fully developed virtual environment that generates a mirror image of the real world. It will introduce a new era of social interaction, education, employment, and currency; rebuilding a virtual option of everything that we have in the physical world.
An exact definition of the Metaverse may be hard to explain because of its depths, but most technology experts agree that the Metaverse is a vast network where individuals via their avatars can interact socially and professionally, in 3-D virtual reality.
Though Metaverse technology is years away from being fully realized, it is expected to eventually be a place where you can work, play, learn, create, shop, and interact with friends in a virtual, online environment.
The Metaverse is a digital reality that combines aspects of social media, online gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), to allow users to interact virtually.
Augmented reality overlays visual elements, sound, and other sensory input onto real-world settings to enhance the user experience. In contrast, virtual reality is entirely virtual and enhances fictional realities.
In fact, science fiction author Neal Stephenson coined the term Metaverse in his 1992 novel Snow Crash.
The Metaverse is a shared virtual environment that people access via the Internet.
MY PERSONAL OPINION ABOUT METAVERSE
I would say, as most people might agree, that the Metaverse could be a series of connected virtual environments that resemble and function similar to our physical world as a three-dimensional immersive version of the Web.
Metaverse took this concept of Second Life, an online game where anyone could create their own avatar and live another life through them and transforming it be more immersive.
Soon, individuals could be able to live in the virtual world through Metaverse. It may be mostly utilized by businesses for trade and profit, as the technology becomes more prevalent.
Being a new technology, people might immerse into it without being aware of the risks. As we immerse ourselves in the Metaverse, we will undoubtedly confront several dangers.
But, as we all know, there is no advancement in technology without risks. While the development of technology connects the world as a single community, both good and bad use are accelerated with technological feasibility.
The objective of the Metaverse is to bring the digital and physical worlds closer together. By mimicking things that we see in the physical world, the Metaverse will open up the ability to explore new locations for everyone.
This way people who are physically limited or are unable to participate in certain activities will be able to do those things in the Metaverse.
SIGNIS CONGRESS IN METAVERSE
With the onset of COVID-19, diverse policies restricting overseas travel have been put in place limiting in-person participation in events. In consideration of this situation, SIGNIS World Congress 2022 took place offline and simultaneously online, using the Metaverse platform.
During the Congress, Catholics around the world attended various programs in real-time through the SIGNIS Metaverse.
SIGNIS World Congress 2022 in the Metaverse showcased how digital space converges with traditional events offline. It serves as a venue for a virtual access to cultural events regardless of time, distance, and economic disparities.
As Pope Francis said, “The digital media revolution of recent decades has proved to be a powerful means of fostering communion and dialogue within our human family.” Digital media is capable of bringing people together by bridging the loneliness of isolation and uniting families and communities.
SIGNIS THEME: PEACE IN THE DIGITAL WORLD
The major agenda of this year’s Signis World Congress was to raise awareness of the importance of peace in the backdrop of global wars and conflicts, and the culture of friction and hate in the digital world is seriously threatening the value of peace. At SWC 2022, participants explored the roles and tasks that journalists and media people must undertake to realize the common good of "peace" together with media people attending from around the world.
Participating in a world congress on ‘Peace in the digital world,’ that took place in Seoul, the global IT powerhouse, which is also the capital city of the world’s only divided country (Korea), the Catholic communicators of SIGNIS were reminded of Pope Francis's Tweet message: “Let us use everything we can, especially the powerful instrument of the media, to build and strengthen the common good. So, let us use the media for peace.”
Metaverse virtual world could turn out to be a potential field of conflict and exploitation. It could be also a liberating space of encounter, dialogue, and communion.
Media professional share the duty to transform cultures by promoting human dignity, establishing peace and justice, and reconciliation.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.