It’s not a good day for cryptocurrencies. Maybe you’ve seen an article (or 20) about this. Maybe you’ve been on Twitter, and our critics gleefully giggle at each headline, each more portending doom than the next. To be fair, things went badly. Crashed, collapsed, erased, pumped, obliterated, and imploded are operational verbs in most reports that are not used incorrectly or in an exaggerated manner. Nothing positive about a week that just wiped $400 billion in value. This is terrifying even for the most committed buy-in and diamond-handed believers who feed on detractors and never say die.
I’m not interested in coming up with a reason to buy the trough or the trough forever and go in, say, to store gold bullion in an underground bunker. But I do see that this savage, angry, frenetic bear market that we find ourselves going through is an opportunity for some much-needed course correction. I’ve said before that the entire crypto space has lost its intrigue, giving up the fringe revolutionary potential of decentralized finance in favor of an inevitable bunch of dumb-looking monkeys. I’m not the only one in crypto who feels this way, let alone the most prominent. Vitalik Buterin makes a similar point in his well-known profile in Time magazine in March 2022.
As the value and volume of cryptocurrencies soared, Vitalik Buterin watched the world he created evolve in both pride and fear, writes @andrewrchow.
“Cryptocurrencies themselves have great dystopian potential if implemented wrong,” @VitalikButerin told TIME https://t.co/fsvL4Mx9uE
– time (@TIME) March 21, 2022
Retribution and Consequences
Twitter has never been a good sample audience, but given the regrettable state of cryptocurrency’s public reputation, it’s not unfathomable or even unexpected that this debacle was ridiculed and gloated by people outside the space. From rampant scams to ugly non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to carbon-emitting mining, we’ve given the outside world good reasons to be more than skeptical of cryptocurrencies. Many still think of us as a bunch of tasteless brothers bickering in an unregulated stock market parody whose payoff has come. Even before this crash, some writers and publications had openly speculated that the bursting of the crypto bubble would propel a group of mostly male, newly broken and deeply disillusioned people towards fascism, away from democratic values, and therefore society.
Related: In Defense of Crypto: Why Digital Currency Deserves a Better Reputation
Whether you agree with this or not – I certainly don’t – it speaks to the dire state of the public image of cryptocurrencies. Things have gone horribly wrong when journalists (no matter how biased) of well-read political publications make even distant arguments for the cryptocurrency-to-fascism pipeline.
Maybe I’m yelling here because a lack of regulation is largely the point of cryptocurrency, and an unregulated space always inevitably breeds bad guys. But people, we absolutely have to put it together.
hold yourself to a higher standard
Let’s do something interesting with encryption. Let’s use encryption to make people’s lives better, more enjoyable, and easier. Let’s stop spending a lot of money on NFT projects that exist only to exist and in most cases will eventually collapse. It’s not even about civic duty or altruism. When did we become so unambitious? When did we become so selfish, driven only by profit and only interested in solving isolated problems? When did we get so bored? In the infancy of cryptocurrencies, the sentiment was positively utopian. It is nothing now, even among those who were once true believers. Are we really that easily shaken?
Related: NFTs: Empowering Artists and Charities to Embrace Digital Movements
Post-crash encryption should be better, smarter, and more creative. We should invest in projects and coins that enable a regenerative economy, support our much-needed natural ecosystems, make our cities smarter and more resilient, nurture green energy, simplify supply chains, and integrate into ordinary people’s portfolios. We should think bigger. I know it’s a silly task to suggest something like this, but maybe we should consider cooling it down with dreams of chasing yield and starting from scratch instead of working. We should find ways to separate cryptocurrencies more meaningfully from the whims of the stock market, which is a big reason why we ended up in this debacle. Shouldn’t we cut out the middlemen who extract so much value from the little guys? We’re not here to build a new Wall Street designed to make rich insiders richer.
Suffice it to say, the crash wasn’t anyone’s fault. But are our reputations and people happy about the potential demise of decentralized finance? We did that to ourselves. When we come out the other side, let’s move forward with real intent. This is the only way for us to gain mass adoption. This is the only way for us to survive.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Dominik Schiener is the co-founder of the Iota Foundation, a non-profit foundation based in Berlin. He oversees the partnership and overall realization of the project vision. Iota is an IoT distributed ledger technology and a cryptocurrency. In addition, he won the largest blockchain hackathon in Shanghai. For the past two years, he has been focusing on enabling the machine economy with Iota.