Why it’s boring to talk about cryptocurrency: the Crypto Bro stereotype

  • If you can not stand people talking about crypto, you are not alone.
  • the “crypto bridge” stereotype can prevent people from learning more about technology.
  • We tend to withdraw from unfamiliar concepts, especially when they are pushed in our face.

You know the guy. He wears a Moncler vest, is always on the phone and has very strong opinions about which NFTs to buy.

He will also tell you how much money he made on his recent investment in cryptocurrency and how it all works.

This persona, known as the “crypto bridge”, has spread over the past two years as the soaring value of digital currencies has tipped them from peripheral investments to the test of pop culture. . The crypto-brother has become part of the cultural encyclopedia and has got a GQ profile and hashtags on Twitter and Tik Tok.

The stereotype is the result of the crypto’s arrival as The Next Big Thing. Advertisements for this year’s Super Bowl have prompted some to name it the Crypto Bowl. NBC alumni The single person dive into NFT influence. The mayors of Miami and New York are trying to rebrand their cities as cryptocurrencies – New York’s Eric Adams even takes his first three payslips in crypto. Last month, people like Bill Clinton and Tom Brady gathered in the Bahamas to talk about “Web 3.0,” a collection of online services powered by blockchain technology called the “next phase” of the Internet.

The hype left some breathless. Vox’s Rebecca Jennings described a speech by Gary Vaynerchuk dedicated to NFTs as “the most unpleasant event I’ve ever attended.” There’s a whole Reddit thread devoted to why crypto investors “are the most boring.” And as one person tweeted recently“God, I hate crypto so much.”

Sasha Mutchnik, a 25-year-old who posts subculture memes to the popular Instagram account @starterpacksofNYC, compared the “crypto brother” to New York’s “financiers” – think of the much-maligned Chad and Brad in their Patagonia vests. They are also part of the ‘tech bridge’, the character in the hoodie and sneakers mocked by HBO Silicon Valley.

“Hit by a combination of money and hype,” Mutchnik told me, the crypto guy is “so full of success with this thing that no one (except him and his comrades who arrived early) does not really understand that it’s all he wants to talk about. ”

It seems Mutchnik is a disgrace given the many companies working to make cryptocurrencies and technology feel relevant and useful in everyday life.

“The technology itself, and the majority of those who use it, are neither stupid, raw nor disgusting,” she said. “Keeping it with boring language and endless spin-offs and ambiguous minimalist logos, though, is how it is.”

But there is something deeper than irritation in the popular contempt for crypto. It’s an alien concept to many, with confusing technical jargon and an ethos of a Matrix-like future where even more of our lives are online – at a time when many people crave IRL interactions after a two-year pandemic. When faced with such a misunderstanding, we shy away and even push back if it gets pushed in our face.

Crypto is like a weight loss drug

Celebrities of all kinds, from Matt Damon and Gen Z influencer Charlie D’Amelio to Gwyneth Paltrow and Justin Bieber, have started collaborating with brands like Crypto.com or the crypto app Gemini to promote new currencies.

Reese Witherspoon tweeted in January “In the (near) future, everyone will have a parallel digital identity. Avatars, cryptocurrencies, digital assets will be the norm. Do you anticipate this? ”

Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at Wharton, explains why this aggressive talk may not be for everyone.

“People feel like they’re being thrown,” Berger told me. “In some ways, it feels a bit like one


weight loss

drugs, which also makes it feel a bit like a scam. Why are so many people trying so hard? Maybe it’s because it’s not right. ”

This is a red flag after celebrity-approved scams in recent years like the Fyre Fest, Theranos and Anna Delvey Foundation. In addition, the cryptocurrency world itself has experienced huge losses and scams: The developers of a popular NFT game lost $ 600 million in user investment due to a security breach, and a coin “squid game” has risen in value in the midst of the popularity of a


Netflix

show of the same name before it disappears from the internet.

It does not help that Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather are both facing a lawsuit claiming that their crypto campaigns were intended to raise the price of their own tokens to make money “at the expense of their subscribers and investors.” according to the applicants. .

We are even more skeptical when something we consider suspicious seems to pop up everywhere. Berger has spent a decade studying consumer behavior. In his latest book, “The Catalyst: How to Change Everyone’s Mind”, he explores how people push back when they feel pressured, a concept known as “reactance”.

We notice this when we ignore spam in our inbox, junk mail or annoying TV commercials. It’s also part of why some people are so resistant to crypto when you see it everywhere, from Witherspoon’s Twitter to “The Tonight Show” where Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton compared their NFT purchases.

“People don’t like being sold on anything,” Berger said. “When they feel that someone is trying to persuade them, their anti-persuasion radar goes out.”

Crypto scares us

Talking about bitcoin and ether triggers another kind of alarm: fear of the unknown.

Most Americans have known the basics of how money works, from a young age. Paper banknotes and coins are tangible and easy to see when exchanged for goods. The concept of a digital currency can be harder to understand, and it’s scary, as if you have to be technically savvy to figure it out, 19-year-old cryptocurrency influencer Miss Teen Crypto told me.

“In fact, we use technology every day that we do not really understand, like using a debit card – we do not know the technical details of the transaction, but we know it works,” he said. “It will be the same with cryptocurrency sooner or later.”

Not everyone agrees and it has nothing to do with crypto bridge. The crypto markets themselves have been in turmoil recently, with the price of bitcoin falling more than 50% from its highest in late 2021. “As a new asset class, it’s relatively high level of


volatility

can provide a break, ”said David Lawant, research director at BitWise Asset Management.

In addition, a lack of regulation, environmental concerns over the amount of electricity required, and disagreement over how to value digital currencies have raised legitimate concerns about the future of crypto as a valid financial tool. Warren Buffet even said he would not buy “bitcoin all over the world” for $ 25.

Whatever the reasons, shyness breeds fear. As Carla Marie Manly, psychologist and author of the book “Joy From Fear,” explained to me, it is an evolutionary response from our caveman era, where people have learned to be suspicious and favor situations that feel familiar and safe. Most people have a low risk tolerance, especially when it comes to their health, safety or finances, she said.

“Those who find cryptocurrency completely foreign will likely tend to feel overwhelmed and intimidated,” she said.

After all, some of us may feel closer to our caveman days than to a world where NFTs, dogecoin, and Coinbase rule. The names and the opacity of their meanings signal a shift towards a more futuristic society.

“Consciously and unconsciously, they would have fear of what future changes would bring,” Manly said.

Blame it on the crypto bridge

On the other hand, according to Manly, there is another category of people who are enthusiastic about the knowledge they have about crypto, especially if they are in the minority.

“Those who understand this area are likely to feel very comfortable and largely uninitiated; their sense of competence will often outweigh any feelings of intimidation and insecurity,” she said.

This group, as Lawant put it, “created their own stories, narratives, memes, and other social norms.” It can feel alienating or even threatening to some who do not share their values, he added.

This is consistent with Berger’s research, which found that social influence can cause us to do the same – or the opposite – of others, depending on how we perceive their identity in relation to our own.

“People like to do things that people like them to do, and they tend to avoid doing things that other people who are not like them do,” he said.

Part of this involves deliberately avoiding a popular trend because some people like it to show that you are against it. “Some of the people who make crypto have a certain identity that other people may not necessarily want to associate with,” Berger said.

He says those people might think, “It’s not something for me. Even though it has status for some people, it does not have for me.”

This is because investing in – and talking about – crypto suggests that you are a certain type of person.

“He’s a different type of guy than the Silicon Valley tech brother,” said Mutchnik, the founder of @starterpacksofNYC. “This guy probably does not wear AllBirds or a Patagonia vest. He may be wearing a Moncler vest or some exaggerated sneakers. There is some kind of need (or at least a desire) to be perceived as hip or hip among these guys. . “

But the crypto guy is a stereotype, just like everyone else. As Mutchnik points out, not all crypto enthusiasts are guys – there is a push for the crypto fraternity. Also, not all crypto enthusiasts talk endlessly about bitcoin, with many trying to make crypto more accessible to people outside the stereotypical “crypto bridge” crowd. “Boys Club, founded by 37-year-old Deana Burke and 29-year-old Natasha Hoskins, is designed to welcome women and non-binary people into the crypto space. Another group, Women in NFTs, wants, as the name suggests, too to open up crypto for women.

But the fact that the stereotype exists is enough to deter people. As Mutchnik put it, “Crypto is not really bad, it’s just that it was badly marketed.”

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