Contributed Articles

Building Resilient Futures in the Virtual Everyday: Virtual Worlds and the Social Resilience of Teens during COVID-19

JULIAN GOPFFARTH Stripe Partners REBECCA JABLONSKY Google1 CATHERINE RICHARDSON Stripe Partners Virtual worlds have been central to an imagined future in which advances in technology propel new social practices. The recent focus within the technology industry on the “metaverse” is the latest iteration of imagined, utopian virtual worlds which have continually surfaced in literature, film, product development, and more since the 1960s. One might say that the concept of virtual worlds is resilient—but do these proposed virtual worlds actually make society more resilient? We argue that despite their endurance, these concepts present a deterministic vision of a singular future towards which humanity is inevitably progressing, revoking the agency, desires and resilience expressed by people today in their everyday realities. Building on original ethnographic research conducted with 31 teenagers in China, Germany and the US as well as past anthropological work on using ethnography to anticipate the future and teenage online...