Multiverse vs Metaverse: The Anatomy of a TikTok Trend Gone Wrong
“The multiverse...it’s dangerous.” - Dr. Strange
TikTok trends can take off in the blink of an eye. One person gets an idea, someone else builds on it and whoosh, off it goes into the social media stratosphere to be reinterpreted a million ways.
But what happens when someone misunderstands a trend?
Let’s break it down.
We’ll call this trend “If the multiverse exists…” which you can search on the popular app to pull up all the related videos.
The trend appears to have begun with the posting of this sound: “Until I Found You” by Stephen Sanchez. It originated, at least in this incarnation, on the well-followed (not to mention verified) account @favsoundds. This bears mentioning, only because trending sounds often come from tiny accounts or unknown sources and blow up seemingly by accident—this account, however, has millions of followers. Thus, it’s no surprise that this lovely tune caught some people’s ear. Give it a listen! It’s beautiful, but also will help get you in the mindset of those who continued using it.
As of the writing of this piece there are 3518 comments on this post, not an extraordinary amount. What is extraordinary, though, is how many, like this comment, reference Dr Strange in one way or another:
The above pictured comment has more likes on it than there are comments on the whole original post! Needless to say, the idea took off. It’s almost impossible to know who came first, but thus the trend began, “If the multiverse exists, I hope…”
Tiktokers quickly jumped on it, from small creators, to mega, well-known influencers like @Annaxsitar.
Especially at the onset, most of the posts were sentimental, related to the Dr Strange and Christine storyline referenced in the comments of that original sound. The popular Dr Strange quote, “I love you in every universe,” gives lovers and singles alike hope for the future, or I suppose the alternate realities.
“If the multiverse is real, I just know we’d be soulmates in every single one.”
“If the multiverse exists, I hope my mom is my mom in every single one.”
“If the multiverse theory is real, I hope we’re best friends in every single one.”
And so it goes. Once a sound starts to gain traction on TikTok, everyone wants to use it. Brands are finding ways to make the trend fit into their niche, everyone is scrambling to make the most clever use of this sound on the FYP (for you page) to *cross your fingers* go viral. As with any good trend, as it picked up into the thousands and hundreds of thousands, people started to give it a comedic twist:
“If the multiverse is real, I hope my body can process gluten in one of them!”
“If the multiverse is real, I hope in one of them I understand math.” (Honestly, relatable…)
They’re great! It even spread to other languages. Trends take on all kinds of forms, and that’s part of what makes social media so fun, so cool and unique. A sound can be posted just to share a song, and mere hours or days later, someone posts using it to wish for better gut health! You’ve gotta laugh...
Then, you might be asking, where did it go wrong? Ah, alas. We can’t say where exactly, but somewhere on this trend’s journey to greatness, someone somewhere confused the multiverse with…dun dun dun…THE METAVERSE!
So, now we’ve got people wishing to be with their current partner in, um…every version of…the metaverse? And saying, “if it exists…” You know as well as we do that it DOES exist.
People took to the comments to inform these users of their mix-up, but it continued anyway! People continue to wish for things in the version of our world where The Metaverse exists, not realizing that it already does.
Even, this young lady who not only wants to not have IBS, but wants to have won an Oscar..! In…the…Metaverse. Well, maybe one day the Oscar part will be possible, but we’re not entirely sure the technology here will be enough to fix your stomach issues. So sorry!
But what ARE these two terms, what do they mean, and are they related?
First, the multiverse (what was actually meant to be used in this trend). Webster’s Dictionary defines the multiverse as, “a theoretical reality that includes a possibly infinite number of parallel universes.” Simply put: there could be an infinite number of YOUs out there, living different versions of your life simultaneously, a concept often explored in sci-fi and the like.
The Metaverse? TOTALLY DIFFERENT! You can learn a ton about The Metaverse in Matthew Ball’s piece “The Metaverse: What it is, Where to Find it, and Who Will Build It.” Even that title tells you something about The Metaverse that isn’t possible for the multiverse…someone builds it. Physically builds it. Well, virtually.
If you’re still not getting it (we understand!) vice.com breaks it down in easier terms here. But, simply put, The Metaverse as a term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash (yeah, it’s that recent!). It references an all-encompassing digital world where you can do, well…pretty much anything you can do in our world, just, um…virtually!
Are these two terms related? Only in so much as they both allude to a sci-fi-esque version of our world.
Last week our team took a trip to the AWE/Augmented Worlds Expo to give a presentation on Broadway 2030, but we popped in to a few other (amazing!) talks as well. Many in reference to The Metaverse. And this is how they’re currently defining it, with a few quotes from some notable figures:
Broadway in The Metaverse, lives at the core of much of the BroadVersity message. Not to say that there haven’t been (and can’t be) shows that use the multiverse, but we digress. Our goals (other than making great theatre and other live events) include using virtual reality to take the starving out of artist and accelerate the development process for shows.
That part doesn’t really coincide with this TikTok trend (hey, if you’re a theatre creator on that app and wanna make a funny video with us talking about this—drop us a line!), but we did get a good chuckle out of the mix up. So, next time you’re swiping on the app and you see someone wishing that The Metaverse existed…now you know!