This week, cryptocurrency markets were roiled by the sort of volatility that would give any sane investor pause. Bitcoin and Ethereum, Fortune reported, hit their lowest levels since July 2021, having shed half their value over the past six months. Sales of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, once a hot crypto trend that some believed would redefine the art world, have fallen sharply.
Obviously, some people are jumping ship, deciding that a massive bubble has burst. Yet for the truly committed — the small and stalwart core that holds a vast majority of these blockchain assets — sticking around through every collapse is sort of the point. In some ways, losing it all is a badge of honor. And so the memes that attend any drop in value are imbued with nihilistic good cheer. You gambled big and came up short: who cares. Not the first time, probably not the last. If nothing else, you can always “buy the dip,” scooping up more Bitcoin while it’s cheap.
Outside of his own community, the crypto bro is usually derided as “cringe.” He proselytizes about economic models he doesn’t quite understand. He’s an easy mark for get-rich-quick scams, has libertarian politics and openly worships Elon Musk. Perhaps most annoyingly, he seems to think that there’s a potential crypto solution to every problem, no matter how disconnected it is from digital life. Their stubbornness and ambivalence in the face of financial ruin, however, is their most endearing trait. It’s like they’ve been kicked so often that not even the failure of a supposedly safe harbor called “stablecoin” (lol) can inflict further pain.
I’m reminded of a quote attributed to a sentient mushroom in an iconic Tumblr shitpost: “You cannot kill me in a way that matters.” Yes, the crypto faithful have continued to throw good money after bad and wiped out real savings. Still, the transactions occur in a space that continues to feel theoretical and gamified, a ridiculous casino of ill repute. At this point, it’s almost an inside joke to stay, and the bond of mutual misery is stronger than any incentive to get out. They are reaping something besides a windfall: the friends they made along the way.
While I have no interest in joining this movement, and will never respect it, I have to admit that a crisis brings out the best in these people. Not for a second do they suspect it is the end; it’s always a crucible from which they can be reborn, together. And when the next cliff comes, they’ll gather at the bottom to share the same old memes again. Bankruptcy is only a state of mind.