Crypto is lost at sea, but I’ll be the lighthouse
My conviction in the industry made a crypto skeptic reconsider how he felt about NFTs — who’s to say what your passion could do for this space?
Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks
During the first peak of the NFT craze, a longtime friend (who, in fairness, has been keen to co-found a non-Web3 company with me) expressed skepticism about the longevity of the NFT fad, and crypto as a whole. He just couldn’t picture a world where digitized JPGs could be impactful.
In many ways, I agreed with him: We were clearly at the height of a speculative frenzy.
But despite all the sometimes-empty hype around us, I used this opportunity to share what actually excites me about NFTs. Like the incredible opportunities for creators to take back ownership of residuals on secondary sales of their work (although the success of low-commission platforms like Blur now calls that into question), and a better way to handle digital identity and credentials like diplomas or certifications in a tamper-resistant and instantly verifiable manner. Or even the idea of fractionalized ownership of real-world items that enables anyone to own a stake in high-value assets like real estate, fine art or rare collectibles that may otherwise be out of someone’s economic reach.
I was so excited: We hadn’t even started scratching the surface as to what NFTs could really be used for.
From the outside, this friend had viewed this world as nothing but crypto “bros” and scammers. But he told me that my conviction in the industry made him reconsider.
Seeing esteemed, rational colleagues pile into the space gives it a credence that no amount of positive press ever could. That’s what made me join, after being overwhelmingly impressed by the founders of my previous company. That’s what made each of them jump into the space too: Close colleagues, each with a successful entrepreneurial track record and an enthusiasm to match, kept choosing blockchain as their next frontier to traverse.
I like to think this is a broader truth that we can all help address: how we can use the little “power” we have here to not only show outsiders what we’re doing in crypto, but to inspire new folks to join us.
Welcome to Web3
Crypto OGs pride themselves on their anti-establishmentarian attitude, often wearing crassness and NSFW memes as badges of pride. So why do the optics of the Web3 community look and feel so much like a staff roster from the tired Web2 businesses we thought we’d left in our dust?
To outsiders, the reality of the Web3 industry feels like a far cry from the promises it hocks on a regular basis. We’re supposedly offering tools that could spark a righteous revolution — and simultaneously bringing new financial opportunities to some of society’s most marginalized groups — but the day-to-day players in the space don’t seem to differ greatly from the archetypes that power many other industries (except perhaps a few notches up in their technical acumen).
Crypto’s reputation for being synonymous with “bro culture” and hypercapitalism not only leaves those who could benefit the most from it on the outside, but likely isn’t sending the right message to potential new entrants to say “Yes, Web3 is for you, too.”
On top of this, the industry itself is plagued with bad actors and some shocking falls from grace for the big players. As a result, it’s almost impossible for the mainstream media or those who work outside of crypto to view the industry as anything other than a world that’s rife with scams and toxic personalities.
However, despite this perception, I truly believe that Web3 is brimming with many talented developers, startup visionaries, artists and business pioneers who largely remain in the shadows. I’m guilty of this too: My default mode is much more about staying behind the curtain than getting in front of it. The problem is when lots of people stay out of the limelight, it’s the egomaniacs who remain as the faces of crypto.
What’s needed now is for more developers, community members and contributors with the ability to change the narrative to step forward and tell a new story — one that embraces the globalism of crypto and showcases the innate diversity the industry holds.
Jumping right in
It’s vital to recognize that while the collapse of Terra and the implosion of FTX were certainly shocking and detrimental to the public perception of crypto, it also brought some much-needed introspection. It forced us to reflect on what we’re really trying to achieve with Web3, and what steps we need to take to get there.
While bad actors and failures in the industry should be held accountable, how can we ensure they do not represent us as a larger community?
The crypto industry still has the potential to be a force for good in the world, but we have a lot of work to do to live up to that promise. We need to build a more welcoming and accessible community.
Read more from our opinion section: Exclusive, divisive, unwelcoming: Yes, this is crypto for women
Let’s do this by changing the conversation and championing new narratives. We need to move past negative generalizations and spotlight the positive stories of people who are using crypto to do real things. Sometimes, this might fit into the altruistic narrative we paint, but it just as equally could be utilitarian scenarios where blockchain just gets the job done.
We need to reach out to people from all walks of life (not just in our Discord or Twitter echo-chambers) and show them how they can be a part of this movement. One of the most beautiful things about this space is that anyone can just jump in. You can quite literally make your dream job. No one needs to give you permission.
I’m trying to channel my own energy back into things I used to do, but now with a crypto bent. I’m immersing myself in the startup scene again, attempting to demonstrate another side to the industry, one that might be more successful at converting the normies. I’ve resumed active mentorship of aspiring individuals within the crypto space and started collaborating with various accelerator programs, both within and beyond the realms of crypto. I’m saying “yes” to activities that aren’t normally in my wheelhouse, like teaching workshops and joining an entrepreneurship class as a guest lecturer.
I’m here, as visible as I can be, hoping to inspire more people to join crypto for the right reasons.
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