Web3 is a wacky space. If you’ve spent more than five minutes on Crypto Twitter, you’ll find a wild digital sphere of human congregations and subcultures that you’d unlikely find in the real world. Coders converge with bankers, art collectors unite with activists, the digital police meet hackers and gamers meet regulators.
As globalisation and the internet reach all corners of the globe, the borderless nature of crypto is spurring an emergence of new kinds of digital communities. Location independence is creating new collectives in a new world — and it’s noisy out there. Here are some of the subcultures you’ll find on the crypto internet.
We’ll start with the most vocal of them all: Bitcoin Maxis.
“There is one coin to rule them all,” the Bitcoin maximalists believe. Mostly anti-gov, mostly anti-anything that warrants an opinion that is anything other than what they truly believe, they lurk in mass huddles on Twitter with hashtag flags or with one arm and phone camera raised while posing with the Bitcoin bull in Miami.
They’re mostly wealthy people keen on obtaining more wealth. But they’re also mass believers that Bitcoin is the answer to the ‘collapsing’ traditional financial system. And Bitcoin — providing they cottoned on to the asset prior to 2020 — is the solution to declining monetary value of the dollar and the answer to an inflationary crisis.
They believe Bitcoin is the only digital asset that will survive and that all other cryptocurrencies are doomed to fail. Although various altcoins are growing their own maximalist followings online, Bitcoin is still miles ahead with their vocal — and at times alienating — fanbase. Even a true Bitcoin Maxi won’t admit that Ethereum is a decent project.
They’re outspoken, incredibly passionate and have no hesitation in starting online feuds with other rival crypto maxis. They can’t fathom why people would waste time considering other assets, when Bitcoin, in their eyes, is the only useful digital currency of the future.
Buterin Weighs In
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has surprisingly defended this digital collective, stating that he understands Bitcoin Maxis are “operating in a hostile and uncertain world”, where there are likely more scam cryptocurrencies than legitimate ones. Buterin admires Bitcoin Maxis for being vocal, and while they make fun of other ‘dying’ cryptos, he views the mockery as being a “healthy dose of intolerance” that he thinks may be helpful for decreasing the rapid growth of scam cryptocurrencies.
In response to their “toxic” behaviour online, he suggests it’s easy to be lured if you don’t put a bravado performance towards your cause.
Fun fact: extreme Bitcoin Maxis are referred to as ‘Toximaxis’.
Decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) are in the spotlight of crypto at the moment. They’re a fast-emerging movement that began as a response to the monopolisation of decision-making. They hail choices made by the majority, not the minority, and are bringing to light some notable issues in our traditional world where Big Tech controls all of us.
The internet-native collectives believe in full transparency — built on open-source blockchains where anyone can view where funds go, including the pay of those involved. Treasuries are accessible by approval of those within the group, coordinated via the ownership of tokens, where members influence decisions via group votes or initiating proposals.
DAOs have garnered interest from the World Economic Forum and government leaders who are “high on blockchain” and bullish on the opportunity to explore how the public can participate in national decision-making in more ways than just who will rule the country.
This lot brings good vibes. Also known as the regenerative finance (ReFi) community, they believe in a utopian world where crypto will benefit society for the greater good. They envision the potential evolution of this technology will use incentive tokenomics to drive positive behaviours by programming smart contracts to reward people for doing good things.
The term ‘Solarpunk’ itself is the name of a sci-fi subgenre that focuses on confronting environmental and societal problems we face in the world today.
According to Solarpunk Magazine, they believe, “The future will only be better if we work to change how our social systems work, our relationship with each other as humans, and our relationship with the ecosystem and earth.” In their eyes, Web3 can drive the world to be more harmonious and safe, and see crypto as an opportunity to reshape our relationships with both data and capital.
Organisations like the Filecoin Foundation and Toucan, for example, use decentralised ledgers to authentically document human rights abuses or carbon credits — making it more financially inconvenient for major corporations to emit carbon emissions. Other collectives like Gitcoin and UkraineDAO use DAO structures to drive collective capital to important causes.
Fun fact: those involved in environmental regeneration via crypto are also known as Regens.
Crypto Subcultures: Lunarpunks
Lunarpunks are the subcultures who are big believers in anonymity, privacy and encryption. They are highly sceptical of the existing power structures of society and use tools to build dark spaces outside of internet surveillance.
They believe in data protection as a human right and that the window for deploying technology to preserve privacy is drawing to a close. In response to ‘surveillance capitalism’, many crypto projects have developed privacy coins, arguing that financial tracking is a risk to users, and compare cash as equally private.
The recent news that the US Treasury Department sanctioned Tornado Cash, a crypto mixer that allows people to shield their transaction history, caused an uproar on Crypto Twitter. Proponents of the privacy protocol believe these technologies are critical to support freedom of speech organisations like WikiLeaks.
Crypto Subcultures: Blockchain Maxis
As new blockchains emerge from Bitcoin, so do their communities. Ethereum Maxis are perhaps the largest of the Blockchain Maxi kinds — they dispel the idea that any other blockchain should be considered for technological innovation.
Ethereum is the most widely used blockchain that allows the development of smart contracts, which are collections of code that power blockchain-based projects, most notably DeFi applications or non-fungible tokens. This blockchain sees more activity than any other network in cryptocurrency history.
Since the emergence of Ethereum, Solana and Avalanche have been key contenders and often touted as ‘Ethereum killers’. Solana arguably has significantly faster processing times and undeniably lower transaction fees, but has since seen some hurdles in avoiding system breakdowns. Avalanche is much newer and, for the time being, sees a smaller community of enthusiasts looking to launch on the next big thing.
Crypto Subcultures: NFT Maxis
One of the newest iterations of sub-cultural emergence in the crypto sphere, the NFT realm sees subcultures within subcultures of the crypto space. Driven by the avatar collection of specific projects, NFTs themselves are driving new groups across the globe. From Bored Apes to CryptoPunks, Deadfellaz to Moonbirds, NFTs are illustrating the power of internet communities that grow around a common identity.
In the case of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) community, the sky is truly the limit with how far these collectives can go — with BAYC moving into Hollywood TV shows, new metaverse worlds and even the launch of hard seltzer lines.
How to find your own crypto subculture
It’s not hard to find your digital community in the digital world these days, and the blockchain industry will only see new collectives and crews forms as people recognise that crypto assets are now linked to cultural capital.