With its own leading actors, overnight stars, bitter feuds and power struggles, the world of crypto celebrities has become a real-life soap opera: All the gossip and sensationalism of Hollywood, but played out against an epic backdrop of rapidly shifting market sentiment.
Whether it’s rival Bitcoin subreddits cleansing their community of ill-favored ideologies, or Buterin tweet-storming the latest scam, there is enough drama to drive a thousand outlandish plots.
This cocktail of revolutionary technology and investment potential not only attracts the very best and worst of people, but has them all well and truly intoxicated on their own power and importance.
Especially if they can show up on yet another irritating list of The Most Influential People In Crypto.
With the Winklevoss twins on one side, the Coinbase team on the other; Villainous Roger Ver mumbling madly about block sizes on the periphery, and CryptoNick scampering off never to be seen again, the personalities have become caricatures. Interestingly, the cast doesn’t include many (or any) women – reinforcing the mainstream media notion that cryptocurrency is an infantile bro-fest that doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
This makes for some endlessly entertaining distraction, but it’s enough to make the community seem a little unhinged. How did this vapid culture of personality infiltrate the crypto universe, isn’t it all getting a little egotistical?
Wouldn’t it be better if we all stayed like Satoshi Nakamoto? Anonymous?
Do we Really Need Crypto Celebrities?
You begin to wonder if we are really buying cryptocurrencies, or just investing in the egos on parade. The market is already shaky, riding speculative waves of hope and despair, but this distorted lens has reduced the scope of events in the crypto community to individual drama.
This might not seem like an issue, until it starts affecting the price action. Fake news of a fatal car crash wiped out $4 billion in Ethereum’s value last year; almost as if investing in it meant buying into Buterin’s beautiful mind.
But do we really need crypto celebrities, or do we need blockchain leaders?
Considering the relentless onslaught of governments and institutions, you might think the crypto community would rally together. But who would they stand behind?
It’s not like these leaders can even manage to negotiate their disagreements, with outright war breaking out between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. What was an ideological disagreement has degenerated into petulant name-calling and ego-stroking.
Apes are humans. https://t.co/t2k2m0q9Cn
— Charlie Lee [LTC] (@SatoshiLite) April 5, 2018
And this was after Roger Ver made the outrageous bet worth millions with Charlie Lee that the coins on the SegWit2x blockchain would ultimately be worth more than coins on the original Bitcoin blockchain.
Even Ethereum is not immune, seeing its own controversy when Charles Hoskinson left to form Ethereum Classic after a heated debate.
All this makes cryptocurrency look like an infantile shit-flinging version of the stock market, which doesn’t help its cause. If Mike Judge ever writes another TV show, you might take bets that crypto celebrities would be the stars.
As Andreas Antonopoulos cautions, it is naive to think that cryptocurrency will not face resistance: Conflict is inevitable, and so we need to choose our leaders carefully, because it’s not like crypto is one big happy family!
The Two Types of Crypto Celebrities
Just like in the world of nocoiners, there are those who have suffered from a sudden accruement of capital: Who’ve attained celebrity status out of little more than luck.
On one side we have the innovators, the leaders (like Buterin, Baldet, or Voorhees) who have more in common with publicity-conscious business superstars like Elon Musk or Richard Branson.
And and on the other the Trevon James and Craig Wrights, whose “famous for being famous” routines are more reminiscent of Paris Hilton (or worse, Martin Shkreli).
Even a squirrel can ride a bull market to the top, but shout about it enough and someone might start to believe you are there for a reason.
Permabulls who highly publicize their profits suffer delusions of grandeur – they share images of their portfolios on Twitter, in a twisted reenactment of the celebrated Wall Street greed of the 1980s.
It’s a fixed narrative of permabullshit, and one that persists long after the market has changed direction.
Some Twitter accounts have a huge amount of influence. But is there nothing honourable about shilling shitcoins and shouting about profits.
If crypto is the ‘wild west’ of finance, then the shitcoin shillers and ponzi profiteers are in a shootout with the voices of reason – with one side urging exuberance, as the other cautions against the dangers of “billions of virtual dollars sloshing around”, but not much else.
*All* crypto communities, ethereum included, should heed these words of warning. Need to differentiate between getting hundreds of billions of dollars of digital paper wealth sloshing around and actually achieving something meaningful for society. https://t.co/aNpEnBNGsA
— Vitalik “Not giving away ETH” Buterin (@VitalikButerin) December 27, 2017
But Who Are The Casualties In This Battle?
It is the newcomers, the curious investor, the vulnerable on the lookout for insightful opinions.
It takes time to become conversant with the vagaries of the market, and if you don’t look before you leap you can end up in the hole.
Influential people have the power to move the market with just a single tweet; power that politicians can only dream of. But some of them are abusing their power.
McAfee might charge 105k per tweet, but this is a meagre investment considering the payoff an ICO might get when their token rises 30%…. and then falls twice as fast to shock the freshly-salted newbies into leaving the cryptosphere.
And by extension, when newbies leave the crypto world with a sour taste in their mouths, those of us who have been members of this community for longer also suffer. We lose the opportunity to grow our industry, our networks, and – yes – our investment portfolios.
This crypto celebrity culture is damaging to the extent that everything is treated as an extension of this soap opera, but without these people there would be a gaping hole. What we really need is for them to simply behave themselves.
The problem with a soap opera is that it require the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, it is a welcome escape from reality… But when people start believing in the drama, they forget the bigger story that drives the movement.