Weirdness of Cryptocurrency

Despite its growing popularity, many individuals are still irritated by the mention of cryptocurrencies. The so-called crypto bro is to blame.

You're familiar with him. He's always on his phone, wears a Moncler vest, and has strong opinions about which NFTs you should buy.

He also wants to tell you how much money he made from his most recent cryptocurrency investment and how everything works.

The "crypto dude" persona has grown in popularity in recent years as the value of digital currencies has risen, elevating them from niche investments to cultural touchstones. With a GQ profile and hashtags on Twitter and TikTok, the crypto bro has entered the cultural vocabulary.

Crypto's emergence as The Next Big Thing has given rise to the cliché. The Crypto Bowl was coined after this year's Super Bowl commercials. NFT influencing is being pursued by alumni of NBC's The Bachelor. Miami and New York mayors are attempting to reinvent their cities as crypto centres, with New York's Eric Adams receiving his first three salaries in cryptocurrency. Bill Clinton and Tom Brady attended a conference in the Bahamas last month to discuss "Web 3.0," a collection of online services driven by blockchain technology that has been labeled the "next phase" of the internet.

Some people are gasping for oxygen because of the hoopla. "The most horrible thing I've ever attended," Rebecca Jennings of Vox said of a Gary Vaynerchuk-hosted discussion about NFTs. Why crypto investors are "the most unpleasant" is the subject of a Reddit thread. "God, I hate crypto so much," one individual recently tweeted.

Sasha Mutchnik, a 25-year-old New York City "financial guy" who publishes jokes about subcultures on the popular Instagram account @starterpacksofNYC, compared the "crypto bro" to Chad and Brad in their Patagonia vests. They're also a little "tech bro," as depicted in HBO's Silicon Valley.

"The crypto man is so drunk on the success of this thing that no one (apart from him and his other bros who got in early) truly gets that it's all he wants to speak about," Mutchnik told me, "entitled by a combination of money and hype."

That, according to Mutchnik, is a tragedy, given the numerous companies attempting to make crypto platforms and technology feel relevant and useful in everyday life.

"Neither the technology nor the majority of folks who deal with it are douchey, disgusting, or unpleasant," she stated. "However, gatekeeping it with irritating jargon, endless stuff, and ambiguous minimalism logos is sort of is."

But there's more to people's dislike of cryptocurrency than irritation. Many people are unfamiliar with the concept, which includes perplexing technical language and an ethos of a Matrix-like future in which even more of our lives are online — at a time when many people seek IRL relationships following two years of a pandemic. When confronted with something unfamiliar, we withdraw and even push back if it is thrust in our faces.

Crypto is similar to a weight-loss medication

Celebrities of all shades, from Matt Damon and Gen Z influencer Charlie D'Amelio to Gwyneth Paltrow and Justin Bieber, have begun to promote the burgeoning currency by working with companies like Crypto.com and the crypto app Gemini.

In January, Reese Witherspoon tweeted, "Every person will have a digital identity in the (near) future. Avatars, cryptocurrency wallets, and digital commodities will be commonplace. Do you have any plans for this?"

Wharton marketing expert Jonah Berger discusses why this forceful pitch may not be for everyone.

"People feel like they're being sold something," Berger said. "It has the appearance of a weight-loss medicine in some aspects, which makes it appear to be a scam in others. Why are so many people putting forth so much effort? It could be because it isn't truly real."

After celebrity-endorsed scams like Fyre Fest, Theranos, and the Anna Delvey Foundation in recent years, it's a red sign. Plus, the crypto community has seen its share of huge losses and scams: Due to a security lapse, the makers of one famous NFT game lost $600 million in user funds, while a "squid game" coin rose in value in tandem with the popularity of a Netflix show of the same name before disappearing from the internet.

It doesn't help that Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather are also being sued for allegedly using crypto promotions to inflate the price of their own tokens in order to profit "at the expense of their fans and investors," according to plaintiffs.

When something questionable appears to be ubiquitous, we become even more suspicious. Berger has studied customer behavior for almost a decade. "The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind," his most recent book, investigates how individuals behave when they're being pushed, a notion known as "reaction."

When we ignore spam in our inbox, junk mail, or an unpleasant TV commercial, we feel it. It's also why some people are wary of cryptocurrency, which has been promoted everywhere from Reese Witherspoon's Twitter to Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton comparing their NFT purchases on "The Tonight Show."

"People don't enjoy being sold," Berger explained. "Their anti-persuasion radar goes off when they think someone is trying to persuade them."

We're afraid of cryptocurrency

The mention of bitcoin and ether raises another alarm: the fear of the unknown.

From a young age, most Americans have had a rudimentary understanding of how money works. Paper money and coins are visible and palpable when they are traded for goods. Miss Teen Crypto, a 19-year-old cryptocurrency influencer, told me that the concept of a digital currency can be difficult to grasp and daunting, as if you need to be tech-savvy to understand it.

"In reality, we use technology every day that we don't fully comprehend," she explained. "For example, we don't grasp the technicalities of a debit card transaction, but we know it works." "This will happen sooner rather than later with cryptocurrencies."

It has nothing to do with the crypto bro that not everyone agrees. The cryptomarkets have been in upheaval recently, with bitcoin's price falling more than 50% from its late-2021 high. "The rather high amount of volatility in a new asset class can give people concern," David Lawant, director of research at BitWise Asset Management, told me.

In addition, a lack of regulation, environmental concerns about the amount of electricity required, and conflicts over how to value digital currencies have all raised valid doubts about crypto's future as a viable financial tool. Warren Buffet has even stated that he would not pay $25 for "all of the bitcoin in the world."

Terrorism breeds fear, regardless of the causes for it. It's an evolutionary response from our caveman days, when people learned to be careful, preferring environments that felt known and comfortable, as Carla Marie Manly, a psychologist and author of "Joy From Fear," described to me. She claims that most people have a limited risk tolerance, particularly when it comes to their health, safety, or wealth.

"Those who are unfamiliar with crypto culture are likely to feel overwhelmed and intimidated," she said.

After all, some of us may feel more at home in a cave than in a world ruled by NFTs, dogecoin, and Coinbase. The names, as well as the ambiguity of their meanings, indicate a shift toward a more futuristic civilization.

"They would be concerned about the future change, both consciously and unconsciously," Manly said.

The crypto bro is to blame

However, according to Manly, there is another group of people who get a rush from their crypto knowledge, particularly if they are in the minority.

"Those who are familiar with this area will likely feel at ease and unafraid; their sense of competence will often outweigh any feelings of intimidation or insecurity," she said.

This group has "developed their own shared stories, narratives, memes, and other social conventions," according to Lawant. Some people who don't share their ideals may find this alienating or even dangerous, he noted.

Berger's research discovered that depending on how we interpret others' identities in relation to our own, social influence might lead us to do the same — or the opposite — of others.

"Individuals prefer to avoid doing things that other people who are not like them do," he remarked.

Part of this entails consciously avoiding a popular trend because some people enjoy it in order to show that you are opposed to it. "Some people who work in crypto have a specific persona that other people may not want to associate themselves with," Berger added.

He claims that some individuals may believe, "This isn't a'me' issue. This is not it for me, despite the fact that it has prestige for some."

That's because investing in — and discussing — cryptocurrency implies you're a specific type of person.

"This is not your typical Silicon Valley tech bro," said Mutchnik, the founder of @starterpacksofNYC. "It's unlikely that he's wearing AllBirds or a Patagonia vest." He may be dressed in a Moncler vest or some ridiculously pricey footwear. There's a need (or at least a desire) among these guys to be seen as hip or connected."

However, the crypto man is exactly like any other stereotype. Not all crypto aficionados are men, as Mutchnik points out, and there is a drive for crypto sisterhood. Many crypto enthusiasts are working to make crypto more accessible to individuals beyond the stereotyped "crypto bro" demographic, thus not all crypto enthusiasts are constantly talking about bitcoin. " Boys Club was formed by Deana Burke, 37, and Natasha Hoskins, 29, with the goal of welcoming women and nonbinary persons into the crypto realm. Women in NFTs is another organisation that tries to make crypto more accessible to women.

However, the mere existence of the stereotype is enough to turn people off. "Crypto isn't all awful," Mutchnik remarked, "it's just been promoted badly."

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