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Issue #16 – Playing With Reality – The Reality Privileged, crypto and fandoms, the future of memes, Voilá, NFTs and the Metaverse 🚀🔮🌟

Thijs Pepping
June 21, 2021

“Playing with Reality” is the title of our upcoming book on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Playing with Reality is about how humans continuously manipulate reality and how new digital technology tools enable us to go one step further in this ancient game. This includes modern phenomena like conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Deepfakes, and fake news, but also virtual humans such as CGI Influencer Lil Miquela and virtual worlds like Fortnite.

The Reality Privileged

“A small percent of people live in a real-world environment that is rich, even overflowing, with glorious substance, beautiful settings, plentiful stimulation, and many fascinating people to talk to, and to work with, and to date. Everyone else, the vast majority of humanity, lacks Reality Privilege – their online world is, or will be, immeasurably richer and more fulfilling than most of the physical and social environment around them in the quote-unquote real world. The Reality Privileged, of course, call this conclusion dystopian, and demand that we prioritize improvements in reality over improvements in virtuality. To which I say: reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don’t think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build – and we are building – online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.”

Crypto Isn’t About Money. It’s About Fandom

“So because (1) some people choose to believe that you can “own” something that exists in the ether, and (2) blockchains let you make public “receipts” of purchases that are backed by irreversible math, you can put these beliefs together and make a marketplace for digital thingies. […] So, capitalism is the fandom for money. Bitcoin is the fandom for people who hate central banks. Tez is, today, a fandom for art collectors. Dogecoin is a fandom for people who love Shiba Inus and mocking other coins. Blockchains don’t replace money so much as they financialize fandoms, and that’s a wild mix, because it means that your money directly carries your ideology.”

Gucci Digitally Outfits Gen-Z In Metaverse

When fake is more valuable than the real thing… While boomers are still scratching their heads at paying real money to accessorize an avatar, Generation Z has long been prepped for this evolution. They understand what internet culture is worth.
“Gen Z, they see virtual products as more valuable than physical products. We are definitely seeing that on Roblox, where it is all about storytelling and self-expression. There are so many people who come together and socialize and connect with their friends, and they want to represent their digital selves through fashion.”

Voilá, the Latest Viral Selfie App

It’s the newest hype, the app Voilá, that enables you to cartoonify your face. Expect more of these kind of applications in the coming year. The pseudonymous economy is becoming more and more popular. 2021 will be the year of the avatar.

An Investigation of Memes, Meaning, and Linguistic Competence Online and IRL

As Zoe Scaman so eloquently puts it: “A fantastic deep dive into the history, evolution and current context of memes and how we use them to “speak rich collective truths” within all aspects of our culture – from entertainment, to politics, to social commentary and more.”
Please look with great interest at this presentation about memes. I think it defines our future.

MUST WATCH: NFTs and the Metaverse

If Web 1.0 brought us the internet, and Web 2.0 saw us all connecting on social media, what will web 3.0 bring? In these two episodes of 60 Minutes+ (S01E17 and S01E18), Laurie Segall explores the future of the internet, also called the metaverse, which will bridge the web with emerging technologies like NFTs and augmented reality.

Join Our Upcoming Reality Show

On the 15th of June 2021 we are organizing our yearly summit. This year we try to answer the question how digital technology is changing our relationship with reality. So if you want to know more about deepfakes, virtual humans, cgi influencers, synthetic media, AR, VR and mixed reality, please register yourself. And it’s free!

New Book

Last week the cover was chosen for our Dutch book “Echt Nep”, a positive book about deepfakes, synthetic media, conspiracy theories, CGI influencers, immersive storytelling, NFTs and the metaverse. The book will be published in autumn of this year. We are also currently working on on English version called “Real Fake”. We will keep you updated in the coming weeks!


Playing with Reality is a weekly newsletter in which SogetiLabs’s Research Institute VINT examines the future where synthetic reality becomes part or our objective reality. We investigate the impact of new technology on people, organisations and our society. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at

About the author

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.


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