Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin released a shocking statement on Twitter earlier today. He declared that if things don’t change within the cryptocurrency community at large, he may very well exit and leave everyone behind.
What made him so upset?
In his own words, he said that he felt frustrated with the “immaturity“ of the attitude of the community at large.
Moons, Lambo’s, and Immaturity Abound?
If all that we accomplish is lambo memes and immature puns about "sharting", then I WILL leave.
Though I still have a lot of hope that the community can steer in the right direction.
— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) December 27, 2017
Before we get into Vitalik’s complaint, we need to understand the community, or at least the most vocal part of it. We need to know who they are and what they stand for.
Unlike traditional investing circles that consist of mid-career and retirees who are following very well-established and mature trends, cryptocurrency seems to attract scores of young people, especially those under 30.
That’s not to say that no one over 30 invests in bitcoin, just that of the segment of the community Vitalik is referring to, it’s pretty obvious that they are mostly quite young. Again this isn’t a problem in and of itself.
It is also common knowledge that the cryptocurrency community and its most vocal minority is mostly made up of young men. This can be verified quite easily with some self investigation.
Watch some cryptocurrency related videos on YouTube, and you will find mostly young men. Look at any blockchain project, and again you will find mostly young men are behind it.
Women are absolutely involved in cryptocurrency and their numbers are growing every day, but the space is still largely filled with young men. As such, their influence will be felt the strongest.
While we don’t have many surveys on average investors across the world, a recent CNBC report cited that among Japanese cryptocurrency investors, 79% are male.
Understanding Play Fighting
How do young men communicate with each other? That’s simple. With jokes, memes, insults, and crude humor. Psychologist Audrey Nelson refers to this as “play fighting“. Dr. Nelson noted that for men, “it is often a form of flattery if they engage you in opposition.”
Indeed, it would seem according to Dr. Nelson that being combatative and seemingly immature is just the way young men operate.
She went on futhur, saying: “Men often turn business into a game, and they want to spar with their opponents. This isn’t an emotional crisis or personal attack; just a little fun. It’s sport.”
The question is, does any of this present a problem?
It is in this writers opinion that no, it’s not a serious problem. It is certainly annoying, and can definetely be off-putting to the uninitiated, but it is not something that’s going to destroy cryptocurrency.
No, cryptocurrency is far stronger than silly memes, rivalries, and toilet jokes.
When we look into cryptocurrency, we have to realize that this is an extremely risky and so far relatively unproven technology (when compared to something like the stock market that has been around for more than 100 years).
What sort of crowd is something that is risky, unproven, and highly technical going to attract? The answer is young men. And just like boys on the schoolyard, these young men will act like young men.
Today we see these young men squabbling and fighting over which cryptocurrency is the best, which one “sucks“, and which one will get you a Lambo as soon as possible.
These ways of expressing oneself are very similar to the console wars that occurred in the early 1990s. Which is better, Sega or Nintendo? Nintendo has better colors. Sega has blast processing. Anyone who was school-aged in the 1990’s can attest to this.
Young males fighting about technology is nothing new, and cryptocurrency is no exception. Adding to the mix that this technology is also money just leads to tempers flaring up even hotter.
Should we aim higher as a community?
If we consider that this behavior is normal, does that mean we shouldn’t aim for something better? Should we just accept that this is the way things are? To answer that, this author would suggest that no, we should always aim higher.
Bitcoin has only been around since 2009. That’s less than 10 years ago. Once we hit the 20 and 30 year mark, we’re going to see the early and current investors growing up and becoming more mature. Not only in their social interactions but in their financial dealings as well.
We’re going to see a lot less risky moves by this set of people. We’re also probably going to see far less fanaticism and zealotry. If anything, this process has already begun and is well under way.
In the not so distant future, we will all look back fondly on this crazy time in the development of cryptocurrency and remember how immature and downright silly we were. But that’s OK, that’s part of growing up. And that’s something all of us will do whether we like it or not.
It’s easy to understand Vitalik’s frustration. He’s viewing Ethereum and cryptocurrency as something that can be world-changing, something they can improve all of mankind, not something for bathroom jokes to be made about.
But Vitalik, I hope you can understand that as the technology needs time to mature, the community will need time to mature as well. And there is nothing wrong with that.
In due time, we will make Vitalik proud, but perhaps not just yet.
Featured Image via Fotolia