It’s not a great day to be in crypto. Perhaps you’ve seen an article (or 20) about this. Perhaps you’ve been on Twitter, where our detractors are cackling gleefully over every headline, each one more harbinger-of-doom-esque than the next. To be fair, things are going badly. Crashed, collapsed, erased, plunged, obliterated and imploded are the operative verbs in most coverage, and they’re not being used incorrectly or in an exaggerated manner. There’s no putting a positive spin on a week where $400 billion in value just evaporated. Even for the most furiously determined buy-the-dippers and diamond-handed believers who feed off detractors and never say die, it’s dire out there.
I’m not interested in making a case for buying the dip or for dipping out forever and getting into, say, stockpiling gold bars in an underground bunker. But I do see this feral, angry, rabid bear market we find ourselves careening through as an opportunity for some much-needed course correction. I’ve argued before that the crypto space at large has lost the plot, forsaking the borderline revolutionary potential of decentralized finance for an inescapable horde of stupid-looking monkeys. I’m not the only person in crypto who feels this way, let alone the most prominent. Vitalik Buterin made similar points in his widely-read profile in the March 2022 issue of Time magazine.
As crypto has soared in value and volume, Vitalik Buterin has watched the world he created evolve with a mixture of pride and dread, writes @andrewrchow.
“Crypto itself has a lot of dystopian potential if implemented wrong,” @VitalikButerin tells TIME https://t.co/fsvL4Mx9uE
— TIME (@TIME) March 21, 2022
Comeuppances and consequences
Twitter is never a great sample audience, but given the sorry state of crypto’s public reputation, it’s not unfathomable or even unexpected that this crash is being met with derision and schadenfreude by people outside the space. From rampant scams to ugly nonfungible tokens (NFT) to carbon-spewing mining, we’ve given the outside world plenty of reason to not only be skeptical of crypto. Many people still think we’re a bunch of tasteless bros duking it out on an unregulated stock market imitation whose comeuppance has arrived. Even before this crash, some writers and publications openly speculated that a crypto bubble burst would push a group of mostly male, newly broken, and deeply disillusioned people toward fascism and away from democratic values and, by extension, society.
Related: In defense of crypto: Why digital currencies deserve a better reputation
Whether or not you agree with that point — and I certainly don’t — it speaks to the dire state of crypto’s public image. Something has gone horribly awry when journalists at reasonably well-read political publications, however biased, are making even remotely compelling arguments for a crypto-to-fascism pipeline.
Perhaps I’m shouting into the void here, given that the absence of regulation is largely the point of crypto, and unregulated spaces will always and inevitably breed bad actors. But people, we’ve absolutely got to get it together.
Holding ourselves to a higher standard
Let’s do something interesting with crypto. Let’s use crypto to make people’s lives better and more enjoyable and easier. Let’s stop spending ungodly amounts of money on NFT projects that exist only to exist and, in most cases, eventually crash. It’s not even about civic responsibility or altruism. When did we become so unambitious? When did we become so self-involved, motivated only by profit, and interested only in solving insular problems? When did we become so incredibly boring? In crypto’s infancy, the mood was positively utopian. Now it’s anything but, even among the people who were once true believers. Are we truly so easily swayed?
Related: NFTs: Empowering artists and charities to embrace the digital movement
Post-crash crypto ought to be better and smarter and more creative. We should be investing in projects and coins that enable a regenerative economy, support our much-needed natural ecosystems, make our cities smarter and more resilient, foster green energy, streamline supply chains, and fit into regular people’s investment portfolios. We should be thinking bigger. I know suggesting such a thing is a fool’s mission, but we should maybe consider cooling it with the yield chasing and the dreams of rags to riches without the work. We should figure out ways to separate crypto more meaningfully from the whims of the stock market, which is a large part of how we ended up in this catastrophe of a crash. Aren’t we supposed to remove the middlemen who have extracted so much value from the little guy? We’re not here to build a new Wall Street designed to make rich insiders richer.
The crash isn’t anyone’s fault, so to speak. But our reputation and the people delighting in what they see as the potential demise of decentralized finance? We did that to ourselves. When we come out the other side, let’s move forward with actual intention. It’s the only way we get to mass adoption. And it’s the only way we’ll survive.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Dominik Schiener is a co-founder of the Iota Foundation, a nonprofit foundation based in Berlin. He oversees partnerships and the overall realization of the project’s vision. Iota is a distributed ledger technology for the Internet of Things and is a cryptocurrency. Additionally, he won the largest blockchain hackathon in Shanghai. For the past two years, he has been focused on enabling the machine economy through Iota.