Davening and the Metaverse

You may have heard that Facebook changed its name to Meta. An article in the WSJ on Wednesday quoted Mark Zuckerberg as saying that Facebook, now Meta, will spend $10 billion dollars this year in pursuit of the metaverse. The metaverse represents a digital reality where people playing through avatars would be able to attend concerts with friends or try on clothes in stores, just as they would offline, out in the real world. Evan Spiegel, the Snapchat CEO, responded with some Mussar and said his company is more interested in augmented reality because it is grounded in the real world that we share.

I happened to try on a Facebook virtual reality headset the other day and it’s really cool. Many financial analysts think the metaverse will be really big, as people are constantly in search of new forms of entertainment and distraction. The Mesillas Yesharim agrees with this last point and teaches that distraction is the first major obstacle on our path of spiritual growth. The other are laziness, our desire for physical pleasure and self-centeredness.

Distraction really comes into the picture during davening. We have the opportunity to petition the Master of the Universe and instead we get distracted with our own personal metaverse. That’s how Hashem created us, but He wants us to try to focus on His reality and fill our lives with learning, mitzvos, praying and chesed.

We can begin our escape from the metaverse the next time we are about to begin Shemoneh Esrai. The Mesillas Yesharim suggests that we stop and think that we are about to petition the Master of the Universe. We will get distracted, but this initial focus should get us through the first Baruch Ata Hashem. Once we begin our escape who knows where it will lead. See you on the other side.