It will probably finish the year as the most hated buzzword of 2022, but the “metaverse” isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. People have been living second lives online for decades – so what’s so different now?

For one, Facebook is betting US$10 billion — and its future — on people making the leap into an alternative digital lifestyle.

In fact, most tech giants are adding “metaverse play” to their shareholder announcements. And, well, you can probably blame those other overused buzzwords for that – “cryptocurrency” and “NFT”.

If you’re not on board yet, the metaverse is limitless, 3D digital world running parallel to ours. Its market value is predicted to be over US$800 billion by 2025… but its supporters reckon it has the potential to hold the majority of all the wealth in the world.

The perfect storm of a global pandemic forcing a huge chunk of the world’s population to live, work and be educated for two years has resulted in a push to find ways to live, work and be educated online.

At the same time, digital currency use escalated and the technology enabling that – the blockchain – also paved the way for the arrival of the non-fungible token (NFT).

Now, we have an immersive 3D world to explore, and a way to make the goods and services it can offer somewhat legitimate.

Goods and sevices such as a Travis Scott concert held in Fortnite, drawing some 11 MILLION fans and netting the rap star $20 million.

This isn’t Twitter or TikTok. In the metaverse, you can attend events such as this as a fully customisable avatar.

“You can start a new identity from scratch,” Tarik Chebib, Group Chief Revenue Officer for says. “It doesn’t really matter who you are in real life.”

“Dressing yourself in the digital realm is going to be as important, even more important than in the physical life,” Adriana Hoppenbrouwer, Co-Founder of The Fabricant Digital Fashion says.

“You can go completely crazy in your own identity curation. You can wear a fire jacket without getting burned. You can be a dinosaur for a day.”

And while gamers have been locked into living, shopping, selling and earning in unique digital worlds for decades, this web3.0 version will ideally allow those digital economies to transcend their environments, become decentralised.

Owning items as avatars as NFTs means you can secure its authenticity and scarcity.

“This doesn’t have to be art,” GFX says. “It could be real estate, music, clothing, entertainment — anything that can be represented digitally.”

So if you’re the lucky owner of one of Quentin Tarantino’s seven uncut scenes from Pulp Fiction, you might host it in your own basement cinema in the metaverse, and charge for the privilege.

You can even play games for money.

Some gamers are reportedly earning between $500-800 a month from battling each other in the world of Axie Infinity, right now.

For many people, that freedom is literally a game-changer.

“It democratises the world, we now don’t have to travel anymore, there’s really a global playing field where people can earn money no matter where they are.”

So when do we step into our ideal second digital life?

The demand is here, and obvious. All we need is to ditch the clunky hardware – and that’s probably not as far away as you think.

This article was developed in collaboration with Australia (AFSL 513393), a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing