Over a period of a few months, Kashmir Hill spent every hour of the night and day in Meta’s virtual reality social network, Horizon Worlds, to meet the metaverse’s earliest adopters — and to see what all the fuss is about. “I gave up television, books and a lot of sleep over the past few months to spend dozens of hours as an animated, floating, legless version of myself.” But who is spending time there? Is the Horizon version of yourself better than the one in real life? Is it ultimately safe? Will the rest of us end up joining them? Lots of questions. While Hill has some answers, the future of this immersive, three-dimensional internet is still unclear.

Wearing the headset, I thought I looked like a failed version of the future, but my 5-year-old was captivated. She begged to try my goggles. Eventually, I relented and let her play Bogo, a game in which she cared for a cute baby alien. After a few minutes, I tried to remove the headset, but she liked it so much that she ran away from me — and straight into a wall. (She was fine.)

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.