Crypto haters have found a home – and a common cause – to crash the volatile asset class and wish for its demise.
DrGerrard doesn’t have a good word to spare for any part of the $1.4 trillion cryptocurrency market. “It’s stupid geek money that geeks use to try to rip each other off,” he says. Bitcoin in particular is gaining his ire. “Its history has been a series of get-rich-quick schemes,” says Gerrard, a 54-year-old IT executive in London. He doesn’t even have anything nice to say about the encouraging technology behind cryptography, a digital ledger system known as blockchain. He concludes: “A pile of bullshit.”
he mustered Modest follow on Twitter Pop like that (13,300 followers) and self-published several books on the topic (50ft Blockchain Attack And Libra Ignore: How Facebook Tried to Grab the Money). When Gerrard wants to connect with other crypto haters, he heads to a thriving corner of the web: a Reddit forum called Buttcoin, the name that suggests cryptocurrencies are a waste of time. He often posts there multiple times a day and spends more time commenting on what the 63,000 members of the group post. “Every other Reddit about cryptocurrency is full of scientists! Or marketing goosebumps. Or both,” he says.
Cryptocurrencies including bitcoin have made millions for investors big and small and are made famous by mainstream figures like Jack Dorsey, who said he would be in the crypto space if he wasn’t running Twitter and Square – and of course Elon Musk. Tesla’s CEO invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin earlier this year that sent the currency soaring, and later sold some of his holdings to help his electric car company report first-quarter earnings. Crypto has legions of loyal fans but also an army of critics. And sometimes those lines are blurred: Musk launched Bitcoin last month and drove its price down by saying that Tesla would no longer accept the currency as payment for its vehicles, noting the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels” by miners who create the currency with computer banks that create Blocks of verified transactions which are then added to the blockchain.
Crypto foes on Reddit cheered Musk’s backtracking and released any such negative news to spur their harsh criticism of bitcoin and other currencies, noting that they’re backed by little hype of the initially Musk-inspired kind. Like these true believers, Buttcoin denizens tend to be tech-savvy guys who are constantly connected online and enjoy connecting through things like memes. (The group’s tagline: “Batcoin: Backed by Gold, Comedy Gold!”) But rather than dedicate themselves to talking about an asset, Bitcoin does the opposite, cementing schadenfreude as the group’s lingua franca.
Some of the most popular posts over the past week: Screenshot from a pro-crypto Reddit site of someone losing $35,000 on DogeCoin; Image of red and green Chile tracking bitcoin trading chart; And one titled “30K finally broke 😊,” referring to Bitcoin’s recent plunge from all-time highs earlier this year. This sort of thing is what Buttcoin fan and online crypto-analyst Amy Castor calls “shitposting.” In the cryptocurrency world, “there are a lot of silly things going on, so ButtCoin is where you go to make fun of it all,” she says. As you can tell, Buttcoins are nothing more than online buttons than their perfect counterparts, and many thinking on both sides tend to be somewhat simplistic, accepting little nuance. But, at least, Buttcoin’s antics do not upend the financial markets.
Despite two decades of steadily increasing mainstream acceptance, crypto remains an undeniably easy target – something some people love to hate, for example, the taxman and the New York Yankees. Possessing it requires a remarkable leap of faith that many cannot justify: there is nothing to back it up. It has no value attached to a physical object. Plus, things are so volatile, their value seems like insane table tennis on a consistent basis. (For example, Bitcoin was worth over $60,000 sometime this year. Today it brings in about half of that). The combination of these elements makes it easier to mock cryptocurrencies than an old retail chain or struggling movie theater business.
McCormick’s actions are putting real weight on these social media-driven financial obsessions. He couldn’t believe what he was saying at all. But others did.
“It’s not really real finance,” said Stephen Brown, 40, a software engineer in Portland, Oregon, and a moderator at Buttcoin Reddit. No one is sure who created Bitcoin nearly 10 years ago; Brown and the seven other supervisors represent the same amount of authority they have known since then. “They’re just trying to build this other system and replace it with something that’s either a joke or a huge bubble.”
Brown can seem like an anomaly within his group. He admits that he has been involved in short-term cryptocurrency trading over the years, despite insisting that he would never buy or hold it for the long-term. Most Buttcoins are more like another pool manager who only knows himself by his handle, AmericanScream, or by his favorite nickname, Adam Smith. (Since the latter sounds somewhat like unearned maximization, let’s refer to it before the former.) AmericanScream testifies to never owning any cryptocurrency, and his complaints about the asset class are common: it lacks intrinsic value and can only increase in price if enough people manage to get more people to buy: “Once you own Bitcoin, the PR It’s all you have.”
AmericanScream, who says he is a semi-retired software engineer in his fifties, has a semi-permanent presence on ButtCoin, talks about upcoming changes to Ether, the death of crypto supporter John McAfee and the recent disappearance of two South African crypto pioneers, whose disappearance may represent the biggest A scam in the history of the industry. “You’ll see me post at 8 am, sometimes 11 at night, sometimes at 3 am,” he says proudly. He says his prolific publication had consequences, which is why he seriously refuses to reveal his name. He claims that he fears that if he does, pro-crypto Redditors will read this, tracking him down and punishing him for his many contradictory comments, possibly by defaming him. “We are the little ones who say the emperor doesn’t wear clothes,” he says. “People want to silence us.”
By nature, Bitcoins are not afraid to outwit the bear. And Jim McCormick, 28, of Houston, is another of those. McCormick only discovered Buttcoin recently, but in one of his first acts to amuse the group, he made a joke on crypto-supporting rival Reddit, posting several ridiculous posts on his pro-Bitcoin bullish crypto page. (In one, McCormick claimed to have found the rare “Iron Gremlin” movement on a Bitcoin stock chart, which is a sure signal to buy; to be clear, such a thing doesn’t exist.) Lots of people believed him and endorsed him without any hint of sarcasm or suspicion,” He says. Next, he posted screenshots of their enthusiastic responses to Buttcoin.
McCormick’s actions are putting real weight on these social media-driven financial obsessions. He couldn’t believe what he was saying at all. But other people did, and perhaps after reading his fake posts and taking it at face value, they went out and bought more cryptocurrency. Now imagine what else has been said across the web over the past year – who said it and who chose to believe it – to make the markets behave in the schizophrenic way they did recently. “It was kind of a short experiment to see if people would be able to distinguish the sarcasm of what they believe from the actual thing,” McCormick says. “And for their shortcomings, I think they can’t.”