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In the face of crises, the “crypto bros” form a group

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Last week the “crypto” sector, a term used to indicate the cryptocurrency market and all blockchain applications, suffered enormous losses, losing about two hundred billion dollars in one day. Bitcoin's value fell to its lowest in the past sixteen months, while the collapse of the cryptocurrency TerraUSD wiped out the investments of thousands of people. In the environment there is explicit talk of a crisis and a “burst bubble”, and cites the simultaneous contraction of the NFT market, the certificates through which digital images and videos are sold, as the first sign of what will happen to cryptocurrencies.

The “crypto” market is a volatile market which in its short history has alternated moments of serious declines with others of solid expansion. It is therefore early to make predictions based on what will happen, but these days the most active user communities in the sector are as always on some subreddits, the thematic sections that make up the social network Reddit, to share points of view, personal outlets and words of comfort. In many cases, the tones of these comments are frustrated, inconsolable and alarmed.

TerraUSD is a so-called “stablecoin”, cryptocurrencies designed to maintain a fixed value to prevent the swings typical of this speculatory market. 1 TerraUSD was worth just under a dollar until last week: on Thursday it started a sudden meltdown reaching less than $ 0.15. The value of the cryptocurrency was not guaranteed by a reserve in fiat currency or other assets, but only through a continuous series of financial operations managed by an algorithm: some unusual and massive transactions however caused the collapse in value of TerraUSD, and subsequent attempts to keep it stable have in turn caused a contraction in the entire sector, bringing with it first Bitcoin and then the other cryptocurrencies in the crisis.

Crypto bros yesterday vs. Crypto bros today #welcomeaboard

– Ryanair (@Ryanair) May 13, 2022

subreddit r / terraluna has been presenting a new “fixed” post since last Thursday, ie placed at the beginning of the page, in which the telephone numbers of the anti-suicide lines of many countries of the world can be found. One of the most shared and commented posts on the same page, in recent days, was written by a user who said he lost over 450 thousand dollars due to the collapse of the currency: “Soon I'll lose my house, I'll be homeless” he says before sharing suicidal thoughts.

Every moment of crisis that the industry has been through in recent years has seen the spread of similar posts, on Reddit, Discord and other communication channels used by speculators and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. On r / bitcoin, a subreddit dedicated to cryptocurrency, there is a post dating back to 2013 in which the author argued that the page should “seriously consider publishing the number of the anti-suicide line”, adding how important it was to try to avoid them. .

The highly speculative nature of the sector, coupled with the incredible growth it has experienced since 2014 – and to a greater extent from 2020 onwards – has made the world of cryptocurrencies an attractive phenomenon for many people. According to a recent survey carried out at the end of 2021 by the research body Pew Research, 43% of US males between the ages of 19 and 29 would have used cryptocurrencies.

The sector therefore attracts many young males for to whom crypto is the first financial experience, attracted by the promise of easy money but also by an aspect of belonging and sharing considered very important. Beyond the personal data, in fact, the sector also enjoys a particular collective story, which is developed mostly online, in dedicated sites, but also on YouTube and on many podcasts. A very solid community has arisen around this mass experience, able to provide a precise identity and a rather clear set of rules and principles to the cryptocurrency neophyte.

The jargon of Bitcoin – and crypto in general – is made up of acronyms and neologisms typical of an active and thriving subculture, but also closed to the outside. «HODL» was born as a typo by some speculator who wanted to write «hold» (in this case, do not sell) and has become a joking imperative with which investors reassure themselves and work as a team. Believing in Bitcoin also means never selling: keeping, always, despite any collapses.

Another common expression is “buy the dip”, which is paired with “hodl” in creating a sense of commonality around cryptocurrency: “buy the dip” (literally “buy the dip, in moments of decline”) is used in times of crisis, when the value of the stock falls and, instead of giving in to panic and abandoning the ship , you choose to stay (“HODL”) and invest new resources, buying cheap currency.

The acronym WAGMI is another indicator of how much the sense of commonality and challenge towards the traditional economy is a strong glue among crypto enthusiasts. It stands for “We Are Gonna Make It” (we will make it) and it is a slogan with which we remember that the road is long and sometimes uphill, but the destination – the wealth and the definitive affirmation of cryptocurrencies – is close. In recent months, in a favorable moment of the market, the acronym WAGMI had also been used by some Twitter profiles of multinationals such as Pepsi, in an attempt to seem in line with the crypto sector.

The journalist Ekin Genç told Vice about the bizarre origin of the acronym, born between the site and the well-known forum 4chan. It was coined by Aziz Shavershian, a young Australian bodybuilder who died in 2011 of a heart attack. “Zyzz”, as he was known online, had become quite famous around 2008 thanks to his motivational content with high tones, in which he encouraged 4chan users to “make it”: become muscular, successful and finally happy.

The success of WAGMI has grown over the years thanks also to this particular intersection that unites the world of bodybuilding with that of video games, reaching as far as crypto. As Genç wrote, “Many gamers first migrated from the culture of World of Warcraft and Runescape to online fitness communities, and later to crypto ». A “migratory flow” favored by the fact that the three sectors, although at first sight different and distant from each other, are particularly successful among the “introverted nerds”.

This widespread sense of marginalization is typical of the gamer culture would also explain the often resentful feelings that are breathed in the forums dedicated to crypto, even in moments of greatest growth. The ultimate goal, wealth or economic independence, is represented by expressions such as “Lambo” (from Lamborghini, the status symbol par excellence) or “To the moon” (“Towards the Moon”), with which positive results are celebrated , when there are.

The success of the “crypto-bros”, as they are called in a derogatory way by some users, always seems to be a revenge, a final victory against an “other”, the whose entities can change depending on the case: jobs, Wall Street finance, politicians, their taxation, people who do not own cryptocurrencies, etc.

Phenomena like Bored Ape Yacht Club, one of the most famous NFT lines, they best represent the identity role that goods of this type seem to have for some enthusiasts. The purchase of an NFT that represents one of these monkeys – rather poorly designed, according to many detractors – is a considerable investment not only for the market value itself but for the sense of belonging to a group that seems to convey: the idea of ​​joining a club, as the name of the line suggests.

Where to ask for help
If you are in an emergency, call 112 . If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, you can call Telefono Amico Italia at 02 2327 2327 or via the internet from here , every day from 10 to 24.
You can also call the Samaritans on the toll-free number 800 86 00 22 from landline or at 06 77208977 from mobile, every day from 1pm to 10pm .