Every year, the 31st of March marks the end of winter break, and hence the end of France’s emergency accommodation plans for precarious people. What is less talked about is the exclusion and social isolation that these people suffer all year round, summer and winter.
On the eve of the presidential election, the Entourage network – a community of 150,000 committed citizens – is sounding the alarm on the unprecedented crisis of fraternity in France by creating Will, the First Homeless Person of the Metaverse and spokesperson for the invisibles.
While huge investments in the virtual world are accelerating, while the metaverse is making an incursion into the presidential campaigns, and while virtual worlds are being built, social isolation has never been so strong. With Will, Entourage questions the evolution of our society, of social ties, and invites us to look after the most precarious, in real life.
WELCOME TO A NEW PARALLEL WORLD : THAT OF THE PIXEL
This is the current paradox: we have never been so connected and yet never so isolated behind our screens. This paradox is likely to become even more pronounced with the development of the metaverse, this virtual and immersive world, considered to be the future version of the Internet. It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s population will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 20261.
For investment in the metaverse is indeed accelerating, and virtual land is seen as a highly profitable investment by more and more investors. Some properties, such as villas or yachts, are even reaching the million-dollar mark. And that’s not all: many brands are also investing in this new virtual reality, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of euros.
SOCIAL TIES : A FUNDAMENTAL NEED IN DANGER
Meanwhile, in France, 300,000 people are living without a home2, in the most absolute exclusion, but are also deprived of social ties. 85% of homeless people say they feel rejected by passers-by3. And only 26% of French people say they talk to homeless people4.
“The 7 million people who are isolated in France5 , a country that has included the word “Fraternité” in its motto without really understanding it, are silent. They do not demonstrate. They are invisible and alone, just ignored. Let us recover our own dignity by living a true relationship of communion with them.”
Jean-Marc Potdevin, co-founding president of the Entourage Network
This is the message that the Entourage association wishes to convey. Before accelerating the virtualization of our social interactions, shouldn’t we take care of each other in our real world? By reaching out to all the lonely and isolated people who are only a few metres away from us ? The benefits of such encounters are many.
For example, 72% of homeless people who are helped out say that they want to start new projects (resume their activities, become a volunteer, find a job, etc.)6.
ENTOURAGE : THE SOCIAL NETWORK THAT REALLY IS SOCIAL
To call on citizens to take action, the Entourage association and its agency TBWA Paris have created Will, the First Homeless Person in the Metaverse. Imagined and co-built with Entourage’s Street Committee7, Will comes as close as possible to a fair and non-cartoonish representation of a homeless person or a person in great precariousness. In addition to living in the metaverse, Will challenges us in a strong TV film, via cross interviews with currently or formerly homeless people, but also via posts on social networks that bounce off the news.
Through this new campaign and the creation of this new kind of spokesperson, Entourage points to the paradox of an era and positions itself as “The social network that really is social”. The association puts technology at the service of human relationships with an application that aims to reconnect people and whose technology is used for the benefit of human encounters, ranging from a simple exchange to common and shared activities in the form of convivial events.
1 Gartner Infotech (2022) Metaverse Hype to Transition into New Business Models that Extend Digital Business. Stamford. Available here.
2 Fondation Abbé Pierre (2022).
3 Emmaus/BVA (2005) – The opinion of people housed in Emmaus centres on their daily life and on emergency and integration accommodation. Available here.
4 Baromètre de la fraternité 2020. Available here.
5 Fondation de France. Available here.
6 Entourage Network (2020). Impact measurement. Available here.
7 Entourage’s Street Committee is made up of currently or formerly homeless people. This committee, which is part of the governance of the association, has a real role as a compass to guide and orientate the team in the implementation of actions. It is currently made up of 15 people.