Having skills that allow us to interact and relate to other people seems to be something innate to being human, like a mandatory item on the list of things we should know how to do, or be born knowing. However, we know that in reality, it is not quite like that, and the lack of understanding about emotional matters is quite common.

Numerous conflicts and problems arise in daily life precisely because of our lack of emotional and social skills. The difficulty in dealing with emotions poses a huge barrier and turns challenges and even minor problems into something extremely draining and complex. Research shows that in the last 30 years, in the USA, 87% of people lost their jobs due to difficulties related to a lack of emotional skills. In Brazil, this rate is even higher, according to research published by a consultancy specializing in recruitment and selection, where 90% of people are fired for the same reason.

And this is not just a corporate problem. Student performance is also impacted. Our personal and family relationships suffer, and to corroborate this statement, we don't even need specific data; just notice the aggressive and intolerant behavior around us, the increasing number of divorces which in 2021 hit a record in Brazil with 80,000 separations, not to mention cases of domestic or child violence.

The Expansion of Virtual Relationships

As we evolve as a society, even from a technological viewpoint, this gap in such essential and human skills is carried along and suffers even more interference and modifications. Observe people's behavior on social media. Negative comments, "cancel culture", insults, and disrespect are common attitudes. This is more than a reflection of society because the vast majority of people who act this way virtually do not do so when they are "offline", face to face with another person.

Many factors are attributed to the recurrence of these behaviors, but the main one is impunity. If we personally yell at someone, we run physical risks; we are not protected by a screen. And even though there is specific legislation for these cases, the probability of punishment is still relatively low. This ends up encouraging and spreading the attitude.

How we will deal with this going forward should be the individual and collective priority of all of us. We talk about the metaverse, about expanding our coexistence as a community with freedom and without physical limitations. Could this be the time to regulate our emotions, to focus on a massive behavioral change to transform this reality that causes so much general suffering?

More Than a Trend, a Necessity

Emotional intelligence, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility are not skills that we learn in school, in college, or in an MBA, but they are among others that allow us to perform our professional and personal roles with a higher success rate and well-being, and are among the 15 skills highlighted as behavioral trends for the job market by 2035, according to the World Economic Forum.

Without socio-emotional skills, interactions in the metaverse can become tense and negative. People who lack empathy may offend other users without realizing it, while those who lack clear communication skills can easily be misunderstood. Additionally, the lack of self-awareness can lead to inappropriate and disrespectful behavior, while low self-esteem can lead to behaviors of seeking approval and easy access to confidential information.

Recent neuroscience studies suggest that interaction in virtual environments can activate the same brain areas that are stimulated in face-to-face interactions, indicating that virtual experiences have real emotional and cognitive impacts. A study from Stanford University revealed that interactions in the metaverse can generate emotional reactions comparable to those in the real world, highlighting the need to develop robust socio-emotional skills to navigate this new space (Bailenson, 2020).

On the other hand, developing these skills can help build healthy and positive virtual communities. When people are able to understand others' emotions and communicate effectively, they are able to work together to resolve conflicts and create positive relationships. This leads to a safer and more inclusive environment, where people feel welcomed and respected.

The metaverse is no longer a theory, or the future. The metaverse is the present in constant transformation and evolution. As an ideology, the metaverse is a space on the internet that, supported by proprietary technologies, presupposes the integration of the physical and virtual worlds and with it, the expansion of collectivity. And think not that this will serve only as entertainment, but also for learning, business, health, interpersonal relationships, and much more.

However, the metaverse also presents specific challenges, such as the lack of the possibility to interpret body language and facial expressions that occurs in traditional communication. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, highlighting the importance of developing new specific competencies for communication and emotion interpretation in this context.

It is foreseeable that the metaverse will affect and transform human behavior, because it presupposes a major change in the way we are relating to each other, just as it was with the emergence of the internet and later social media. Therefore, it

is urgent to work on the development of socio-emotional skills, proactively and preventively.

When people learn to understand and manage their emotions in the metaverse, they are more likely to apply these skills in their real-world interactions, becoming more skilled at dealing with social and emotional situations, in a cycle of positive reinforcements and learning. This can help them build healthier and more successful relationships, both in the virtual and real environments. And here lies the great opportunity for the metaverse to transform the world in a positive way.