Anne has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor's in Language.
The New Crypto-Sphere
In the past couple of years, cryptocurrency has blown up in the internet world; it is a new way to invest, make money, and do many things in the virtual world. Originally, the crypto sphere encompassed crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, but now, the industry is branching out. People are making art; collectible pieces of digital art that are worth money, and can gain worth the more rare they are and the longer they might be in the crypto sphere. These are called NFTs. NFT stands for non-fungible tokens, meaning that these unique pieces of art are not able to be replicated; they are completely rare and unique to the person who owns them, supposedly. Each NFT has a “watermark”, if you will call it, that guarantees that whatever NFT piece you own is the original piece and not a replica. Many celebrities and other tech-savvy individuals have taken to this market in droves, creating their own NFTs and “NFT projects” in the hopes of gaining soaring profits from this new market. But are NFTs really all they are cracked up to be? Are they worth it? In this article, I will explain my brief experience exploring the NFT world over several months, sharing my opinion on the current market, including the positive and negative things I encountered while enmeshed in this digital “crypto sphere”. Please note that I do not claim to be a professional with a good understanding of everything, and I am simply only sharing my opinions and my experience; I’m sure others may have had many different experiences with NFTs and that’s fine. The point is to explore the many different outcomes and possibilities that can result in an ever-growing technological world.
The Basics of NFTs
I originally discovered NFTs because I noticed many celebrities started mentioning this thing called “NFTs” on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter. I was intrigued and curious about just exactly what this was, so I decided to investigate. My initial investigation led me to a Discord server for an NFT “project”. I had never even heard of NFTs or NFT projects, and had a minimal understanding of the crypto world in general, so I was brand new to the game. Initially, the community was very welcoming and was open to answering any questions I had about how NFTs work and what the big deal about them was. From what I was told, celebrities and other budding entrepreneurs and artists were using NFTS to “sell” their digital art. Once purchased, people who have the NFTs from that particular person also might be getting some perks from the community additionally, such as being able to interact with the celebrity or artists on a more personal level, being able to have early access to videogames or other projects that particular NFT community might be working on, and many more things. The idea was that the NFT itself was your “ticket” to not just financial profit in the cryptosphere, but also a ticket to interact with and get to know artists and celebrities on a more personal level. I discovered that the reason so many celebrities seemed to be latching onto this, especially musicians, is because during COVID, since concerts and other performances were canceled, they were losing profits. NFTs were a way to explore digital “concerts”, performances, and events in the “NFTsphere”, a digital world that could be accessed by NFT holders. In this space, the personal interaction and engagement is an exciting idea to many fans of that particular person or artist. It claims to be a new way for celebrities and artists to make money and engage with audiences around the world in a pandemic-era time. The idea definitely sounded intriguing and interesting to me, so I began meeting in the Discord every single day to learn more about the community and the things that NFTs could offer. This is where I learned the many positives and negatives of getting involved in this community.
Buying an NFT
First thing’s first; you must buy an NFT in order to engage in the perks of whatever project you are invested in. Depending on the market and the worth of the NFTs at the time, you might have to pay a small amount or large amount. The idea for many is to find projects when they are just taking off, buy many NFTs for a low price, and then watch their worth grow over time. Once they become worth enough for a reasonable profit, people can trade or sell their NFTs, earning cryptocurrency for each transaction that can then be transferred into US dollars. (or whatever the common cash currency is in their country). It is similar to things like Bitcoin in the sense that you buy in early and then take the risk of waiting to see if profits soar. It’s an investment, and with any investment, there will be risks. It’s important to remember that with any investment, there are no guarantees that everything will work out and you will make a lot of money. I encountered many people in NFTs that were highly optimistic, but I found that the reality for many regular people who are lower to middle class is, unless they know what projects are going to gain popularity, they might not see much profit at all. So remember, it’s always a huge risk.
What's the Difference?
Getting Involved in the Community
One of the major differences between NFTS and things like Bitcoin is the community aspect of everything. Instead of just making an investment or buying a stock and waiting to see what happens, you are constantly immersed in a community of people. Most NFT groups create their communities in Discord and post on Twitter, and they may also have their own websites if, for instance, they are developing a video game or some other project in addition to creating the NFTs. In that sense, it’s like a mixture between crypto investments and “Go Fund Me''. If you invest in the project, you may get perks, free stuff, “rewards” for helping the project reach its goals, whatever those may be. Once you purchase an NFT, you can share it with the community, talk about the “stats' ' of the piece (rarity, worth, etc).----kind of like Pokemon cards or something like that. Additionally, project members will hire “mods' ' and other people to work on their team that might have become interested in the project through purchasing an NFT. Sometimes, projects will hold contests and give away “free” NFTs, claiming that it’s essentially like winning lots of money if you win a free NFT, but I think that idea is highly debatable depending on the circumstances and the situation. In a nutshell, you can get very involved with the community, becoming a mod, hosting events, and helping promote the project, or, you can choose to be minimally involved and just check up on the Discord everyday to see updates about the NFTs or the project they are promoting. It all depends on how invested you want to get. For me, I feel that I got too invested in the project. I had become a mod and was spending all my time on Discord, talking about NFTs and promoting the project. Oftentimes, project members might not even pay mods, despite them doing a considerable amount of work to help with the project. It can become a very toxic environment in some instances.
The positive aspects of NFTs to me are very minimal in relation to the negatives, but there are some good aspects to this new form of crypto trading. Firstly, this is a very new and promising market. You will see more and more people, such as entrepreneurs and celebrities, backing this market. In addition, major corporations and companies are grabbing a hold of the market too. (McDonald’s is just one example of several companies joining the NFT community). With new markets like this, it also brings new opportunities for newcomers to get involved and possibly make a name for themselves in this new community. The constant interaction shows an ever-growing popularity that is likely to continue at least for the next several years.
The negatives, however, seem to greatly outweigh the positives in my opinion, which is why I am no longer involved in NFTs. Firstly, there is no regulation of this market. It is a free market where individuals and companies have free reign to do whatever they want, promise whatever they want, and promote whatever they want. Unfortunately, in my time, I saw this dark side to NFTs. I saw many scam projects that would quickly start up, gain a following, and then once they had sold enough NFTs and made a profit off of the newcomers, the project would just as quickly be shut down, without so much as a word to their followers. Followers of these projects would be left in the dark with NFTs that were worth nothing in the end. Some people in the NFT community have written out “red flags” for scam projects in an effort to help newcomers and prevent them from getting scammed, but it happens so often and so quickly in this market right now that there is little that can be done, and no repercussions for the projects that do scam others. Another thing that I think makes the NFT market not worth it in the end is the subjectivity of the “art” that is being sold. Every NFT is supposed to be a unique piece of art. However, I’ve found in my time exploring NFTs that there are hundreds of projects with terrible looking art. Some projects are very professional and hire professional artists to come up with the art for the NFTs, while others copy and paste things from the internet and claim that is their unique “NFT”. If they are just copying and pasting images from Google, it’s not worth anything! In addition, lots of people on Twitter argue that NFTs are not “unique” because anyone can save an NFT someone has shared online and claim that it’s their own. The majority of arguments about NFTs on Twitter seem to center on this issue alone.
Even more worrisome is my discovery that some NFT projects were selling nude photos of celebrities (once that had been leaked to the public years ago), and passing them off as unique NFTs. This is absolutely terrible and something needs to be done. A lot of teens and younger people are looking into NFTs, and without regulation, they can see a lot of adult content that they shouldn’t, all because someone out there wanted to make a quick buck off of someone’s nude pictures. This is where I stopped getting involved in NFTs. After seeing these things, I just could not imagine going back to it. Maybe in time if the market becomes more regulated and the obvious internet criminals are weeded out, I might take a second look, but for now, I’m better off without this black market cryptosphere in my life.
Where Should You Go?
To conclude, I just have one piece of advice for you if you are interested in getting involved with NFTs: “Use caution”. There are so many uncertainties and unknowns about this market due to how young it is and the lack of regulation. For me, the negative aspects far outweigh the positives, and personally, it just did not seem worth it to me anymore. However, you may find the diamond in the rough; maybe you will have better luck in this new market. Whatever you choose to do, please remember to be careful and always, always check facts, be aware of red flags, and protect yourself on the internet because you never know what can happen.