If you’re looking for it, head to 3.1 Genesis Plaza in Decentraland, one of the trendiest metaverses out there. Will, the first homeless person in the metaverse, warns us of the isolation of the most precarious “IRL”, in real life. He made his appearance on March 31. The day of the end of the winter break in France. In order to denounce the resumption of evictions, but also the isolation of almost 7 million people in France, the Entourage association has decided to take the opportunity with this Metaverse homeless. Real spokesperson for the most precarious.
†We want to restore social ties and this virtual character seemed like a good idea as means of interpellation“, Jean-Marc Potdevin, president and co-founder of the Entourage network, explains to WE DEMAIN. Entourage, a community of 150,000 committed citizens, therefore questions this future society, this Web3, where virtual social ties predominate. She invites each of us to take care of the most precarious people in real life through this unique operation.
A virtual character from the metaverse with very real roots
In concrete terms, Will was created in collaboration with the TBWA\Paris agency. This one is the origin of this idea and works pro bono at Entourage since 2015. This first homeless person in the metaverse has been evolving in Decentraland for several days. †We clearly haven’t bought a plot of the 23,000 sq ft of land available in Decentraland since Will has been homelessexplains Jean-Marc Potdevin† He wanders around but regularly passes by Genesis Plazawhat is the central place of this metaverse managed by a foundation† There are slots where he can chat.”
I’m Will, the first person #SansAbriDuMetavers† I am here to remind you that in France more than 300,000 homeless people live in the most absolute exclusion and deprived of social ties.
— Entourage (@R_Entourage) March 31, 2022
The Entourage association has also planned cross-interviews with people in real life in the future. With very real homeless people, members of the Entourage network, people from the metaverse… Even candidates for the 2022 presidential election if they accept the invitation. On this topic, Emmanuel Macron also mentioned the idea of a European metaverse and created a campaign space in Minecraft. Does he dare to trade with Will?
An SDF made by the homeless themselves
A virtual character, but who stays as close as possible to very real homeless people. Voluntarily, the aim was not to be caricatured, but to represent real experiences† Will was therefore created with the help of the Comité de la Rue d’Entourage. It is this collective, made up of people who are currently or formerly homeless, that has helped give depth to Will. “The vice-chair of the committee even mimicked the way a homeless person stands, with their shoulders slightly hunched, how they move to make themselves as invisible as possible”specifies the president of the association.
Far from cliché, Will reflects the average homeless person. †Of the 300,000 homeless in France, 295,000 are like you and me. We must break through prejudice†, insists Jean-Marc Potdevin. Age, gender, skin colour, clothing, choice of first name… every detail has been thought out to represent reality as well as possible. “To the point that those involved in Will’s creation eventually began to have second thoughts, fearing to see the character attacked in the metaverse.e,” he explains. Fortunately, this scenario is unlikely because the metaverses take steps to avoid these situations.
Changing perceptions and interactions with the homeless
According to Entourage, 71% of homeless people have a smartphone or tablet† “Many of them use social networks, but that doesn’t take them out of the loneliness, adds Mr. Potdevin. They are always ignored in real life. To change this requires a change of perspective. No longer see them as people in need of help, but as neighbours, people who have as much to offer us as we have to offer them, through discussions and social exchanges.”
To promote a real connection with the most precarious, not on social networks but in real life, Entourage has created an application. “Entourage Solidarity Network” (on the web, iOS and Android) makes it possible to connect supportive neighbors with the homeless, but also to deconstruct prejudice (alcohol, begging, Roma, etc.) through video content. The target, in the endis of recreate friendship networks, in real life, through social events mixing homeless, precarious and socialized people.
More and more connected… and more and more isolated behind our scenes
Studies, such as Gartner’s, predict that a quarter of the population will spend at least an hour a day on a metaverse by 2026. But what the rest of the population and maintaining social ties?
This is indeed the current paradox: we’ve never been so connected and yet never so isolated behind our scenes† A contradiction that threatens to be accentuated even more with the development of the metaverse, this virtual and immersive world, considered the future version of the Internet.
However, this social bond at risk is a real lifeline for the most precarious. The association reminds us: 4 million French people have fewer than 3 conversations a year. And an Entourage report, published in 2020, points out that 72% of homeless people surrounded say they want to start new projects (restart their steps, volunteer, find a job, etc.). The importance of interest in social ties more than ever.
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