Why did NFTs turn back into memes?
What happened to the NFT movement? Why aren’t people showing off their precious ape face avatars quite so much anymore? What can the development of meme culture teach us about the folly of internet gold rushes?
Remember that halcyon spring/summer of 2021, when the NFT movement was in its prime? When that nice Beeple chap sold his magnum opus for $69 million, everybody was scrambling for a piece of the Bored Ape pie and the financial future of artists seemed all but assured?
Even the most die-hard NFT stan will admit the air has somewhat gone out the sails of that particular ship. Why tho?
And will the whole NFT project once again emerge, phoenix like, and generate a thousand ultra-wealthy nerds like our old chum Beeple?
In the early days of their emergence, when the world of blockchain still felt new and exciting, NFTs were seen as a revolutionary new way for artists to monetize their digital art – and for connoisseurs to acquire their very own unique and one-of-a-kind digital assets.
You can actually directly support your favourite artist, bro! Even on re-sale, the creator gets commission! It’s a beautiful idea, no doubt about that.
Did you buy any? A lot of people did. I did. Participating in that community, chances are you’d have also joined an online community, typically on Discord. And you’ll have noticed, in basically every case, the mood souring gradually over time.
People invested their money, because legitimately they felt this was an opportunity to invest in a new asset class. To get in on the ground floor of a revolutionary form of finance.
And not even a shitty exploitative one either! One that celebrated creativity, and art! One through which you might show off your taste and discernment on social media, perchance with a hexagonal profile shot.
Anyway, too many people had the same idea at the same time, creating a classic asset bubble. Ever heard of tulip mania? Similar deal. Around this time a rather unlovely new term snuck into the language too – rug-pull.
NFT RUG PULLS
Ever heard of Frosties? Not the cereal brand (to be clear, they’re Greeeeeat, albeit detrimental to children’s teeth). Frosties was an NFT project where creators sold some sold 8,888 “ice cream” NFTs, with the promise they’d generate value and be part of some notional future ‘web3’, ‘metaverse’ deal.
Anywho, after raising a whopping $1.3m, the team behind Frosties deleted all their social media and vanished into the ether. Classic rug pull.
Baller Ape Club is another one – 5,000 NFTs sold to luckless rubes for the princely sum of two SOLs apiece. They vanished with $2m, leaving investors nothing to show for it but a poorly rendered picture of a chimp. That (whisper it) anybody could basically screenshot.
RUG PULL JUSTICE
What happened next? As it happens both Frosties and the Baller Ape creators have been arrested and indicted for fraud. So there is justice – albeit poetically meted out not on the brave new frontiers of the blockchain, but instead via the reliable, stuffy old centralised IRL feds. Who’d have thought?
Some projects, in fairness, paid back investors in full when it became clear that, y’know, the ownership papers (not even technically papers) for a JPEG anybody could just right-click and save wasn’t worth fabulous riches.
Slot Zombies very nobly paid everybody back. A shining example of how to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.
So what now? A bunch of people look a bit ridiculous, and communities – on Discord servers that are still active, kinda – have little to do but shitpost.
To wit – we’ve entered a new golden age of memes.
Because nothing is funnier than other people’s misfortune, right? Nothing.
Hey, IS STEALING MEMES ILLEGAL?
While we’re here, does anybody know IS IT PRONOUNCED GIF OR JIF?