Crypto, NFT, Web3: People Hate the Future of the Internet

0

On the subway this morning, I looked up and saw an advertisement for a new cryptocurrency. Plus specificallyI looked at a bright red rectangle behind a large white font that read: It’s never too late to be early.

We are in the midst of a speculation boom that has been variously compared to the Beanie Babies Fashionthe dotcom bubbleY tulip mania. A year ago, the average person may never have heard the term Web3. Now we all have to look like Paris Hilton contemplate a cartoon monkey NFT that Jimmy Fallon spent $216,000 on, later remarking, “I love the captain’s hat.” Stories about this new vision of the Internet appear in the technology and business sections of national newspapers more or less every day, usually with the caveat that many people sincerely believe that Web3 is a ponzi schemea scam, a multi level marketing fix, and a fraud.

This evaluation has its own rapidly growing army of adherents. “Web3 is a Ponzi scheme” has circulated as a memesin widely quoted manifestosand in viral blogs. Maybe soon it will be a political slogan. (Those with a specific disdain for NFTs have already took the nickname “right clickers”.) Comparing Web3 to a Ponzi scheme is useful because, unlike Web3, a Ponzi scheme is easy to understand: we all know what is wrong with scams and understand that Ponzi schemes are bad. We may not understand what people mean when they talk about blockchain, but we have a feeling that we are supposed to be their brands and we are under pressure to join them or die.

If that rhetoric is fair, if Web3 is literally a scam, it depends on which part of a broad ecosystem of new technologies you are talking about. (Clearly scams to abound; The Federal Trade Commission has gone so far as to officially announce scams abound.) At its most basic, Web3 envisions a massive shift away from the habit of accessing the web through centralized platforms like Facebook and Google, and toward a standard of communication, storage, and payment through a supposedly incorruptible, non-editable system, fail-safe. Possibly this would give the average person more control over their personal data and the consequences of their interactions, but for several reasons So far it’s been a bit of a sham.

The term itself—Web3—was first used by Gavin Wood, the co-founder of the popular Ethereum blockchain, in 2014, in an essay now known as “seminal” and “classic” by crypto enthusiasts. The vitriol that can erupt whenever his neologism is mentioned, the fuel that often drives these conversations from zero to 100, comes from the creeping sense that Wood and others’ vision of the future is inevitable, that Web3 will emerge despite anyone’s reservations. , as much as it seems like a scam. The frenzy of speculation is met by a frenzy of resentment.


People who say that Web3 is a scam have other problems with the idea. In fact, they hate it for a new reason every day. I’m not exaggerating: They hate that.

When the Associated Press announced last month that it would sell some of its photographs as NFTs, the decision was described as “weak, amoral,” and the news organization was He said to “eat shit”. (Dwayne Desaulniers, who runs the AP project, told me that he spent eight hours going through Twitter responses. “I was surprised by the volume,” he said.) In the fall, when NFL star Aaron Rodgers said he would take part of his salary in bitcoin, he was criticized for participating in what some said amounted to a backup of “money laundering”. When the “fan token” platform Partners got involved in British Premier League football, Crystal Palace fans showed up to a game with a banner that says, PARASITES IN MORAL BANKRUPTCY PARTNERS NOT WELCOME. On twitter, the anti-Web3 crowd a digital billboard in the style of 19th-century newspaper ads has been circulating lately, with nfts shit suck Y Open your eyes, shit for brain headline in ornate script.

A person who invests in cryptocurrencies or a shared future on the blockchain is said to i hate the earth and support theHyperfinancialization of all human existence..” Or are they a greedy idiot who deserves spend millions of dollars on digital portraits of monkeys While Marc Andreessen gets richerif not an embarrassing monster who is really just looking for a cover to debate age of consent laws. But the simple insistence that Web3 is a scam, no more, no less, remains the most consistent criticism. After Kim Kardashian was sued for promoting a dubious cryptocurrency investment opportunity on her Instagram, Ben McKenzie, a teen soap opera star from the early 2000s (is that weird?), wrote an essay for Board with journalist Jacob Silverman criticizing Kardashian and arguing that celebrities promoting crypto “might as well be promoting payday loans or seating their audience at a rigged blackjack table.” It sounds bad.

The anger at Web3 has echoes of the fury over the collapse of subprime mortgages nearly 15 years ago. The boorish behavior that the event exposed and the government bailouts that followed helped motivate the early hug of bitcoin, which was convincing described as a financial system based on “evidence”, instead of the kind of “trust” that had just gotten the world into a big mess. Now, ironically, the same historical event serves as the basis for Web3’s backlash. “I’ve seen a fool’s gold rush up close in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis,” said Michael Hsu, a banking regulator for the US Treasury Department, in a September report. speaks to the Blockchain Association. “It looks like we may be on the cusp of another with cryptocurrencies.”

Last year, when a group of Reddit users spent weeks taking advantage of GameStop stock just to pick on everyone, and when the New York Young Republican Club responded by staging a baffling reoccupation of Wall Street, they were thinking of the 2008 crash. ( The rescues werestill a plot point”, argued Paige K. Bradley in a report for artforum. “People are pissed off”). So are the Web3 resisters on the highly active Reddit forums. r/CryptoReality Y r/currency. In the latter, cryptocurrency enthusiasts are stereotyped Y mocked as “the millennial male versions of the MLM Huns who sell diet shakes on Facebook” and parodied in publications with titles like “Are we living in the future? (Appetizers purchased with $USD).” But he also frames them as the evil engineers of a foretold collapse who are pushing us all into a future that is actually history repeating itself.

An r/Buttcoin moderator, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of harassment and doxing, admitted that the exchange a bit for extreme it’s childish, but he told me he couldn’t know how annoying it is when “crypto bros” spam Reddit with their links and say that anyone who disagrees with them is a fool. (The longest running bit on the r/Buttcoin forum is commenting “this is good for bitcoin” under any crypto-related news which should apparently be disappointing, in imitation of the unwavering faith of cryptobros). The moderator also said that the forum serves as a public archive of the predatory behavior of cryptobros. .

“It’s not a question of whether the market is going to crash; it will collapse,” he said. “And when that happens, there will be a lot of people pretending they were victims. And there’s a large group of us who feel like we can’t let them get away with it. There should be no bailout for these people.”


The pandemic changed the way Americans think about scams. A few years ago, when Donald Trump was in office and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was awaiting trial, swindling seemed to be the default mode of conduct in a self-interested society. The New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino described it in her 2019 bestseller, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Deceptionas “the ultimate millennial ethos.”

We were tickled by scamswe reluctantly meet amazed by themand indulged in a morbid curiosity in his inner workings. But somehow, the relentless misery and staggeringly uneven results of the last two years have brought an unexpected correction to this mentality. A new exasperation has gripped billionaires, out-of-touch celebrities and dubious talent. influential people that they could not find it in themselves to act tastefully while others suffered, and that they were isolated from the worst of the pandemic for the money that kept coming in. Calls were heard to crack down on all liars, hypocritesY opportunists Exploding despair.

The most online stretch in human history surely played a role in this reversal. On social media, movements against scams have escalated through likes and shares as fast as the scammer movements themselves. The anti-fraudsters seem motivated by frustration with the way things work and the fact that they had no say in their deal. Similarly, with Web3, the anger seems to stem from the knowledge that ordinary people may be unable to excuse themselves from the possibly tragic ramifications of a movement they neither persecuted nor supported. “If it’s just a dotcom bubble, it sucks for the people who invested,” said Hilary Allen, a law professor at American University, recently said vox. “But if it is [like] 2008, then we are all screwed, even those of us who are not investing, and that is not fair”.

When I spoke to Wood, the co-founder of Ethereum, and asked him if he was surprised by the recent pushback against Web3, he didn’t seem fazed. People are just afraid of change, he said, and that’s okay, because, as with any major social change, Web3 will come in waves. “First there are the builders,” he said, “the people who are building the next generation of things.” Then there’s a broader group of influencers who “think quite a bit about how they live their lives.” If this second group accepts a coherent argument as to why the great social change is beneficial to them, they will “greatly drag the rest of the population along.”

Being dragged is what people really resent. And that resentment is becoming a force of its own.

When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thanks for supporting the atlantic.

Share.

Comments are closed.