Religion was always part of human history.
It was central in some periods and less relevant in others, such as today. Science is slowly conquering some of religion’s domains. In the past, humans have often asked for religious answers regarding practical things such as cultivating the soil or running a city. With time those answers came from the scientific method outputs, leaving religion dealing only with big questions. Those questions fluctuate around the sense of life, identity, and the need for a community.
Religion offers big but easy truths that can be digested and accepted by the large population, which makes them strong. It is not a suitable blog piece to investigate the dynamics and my opinion on the topic, but the core concept should be clear. Religion gives directions and sense to humans who are, by default, lost. Religion is a community enabler, bringing people together by converging to a clear set of values and rituals. Nowadays, in the world, the available options for you are multiple.
The amount of community is enormous due to the Internet. You are always able to find your perfect flavor. Some communities will try to answer also practical questions (think of a no-vax regarding your health), but all will offer you a clear truth and a sense to give yourself. That’s the catch. Being part of something greater than our life is a need of many.
I would try to argue that blockchain communities are just another of those communities. They offer identity to many young white males without delivering real value to their members. The main gain is a sense of belonging, truth, and rules.
The first god in our web3 Pantheon is, of course, Satoshi Nakamoto. The Bitcoin community is the worst to handle. The members have shaped their identity around this figure. We can say that Bitcoin is one of the communities more similar to traditional religious communities, especially Islam or Catholicism.
Over time bitcoiners have developed a series of rules and behaviors that resemble the ones found in religion. From “stack sats” to “Bitcoin-only mentality”, we have many examples of rituals and actions to follow to be accepted by the community. Members of this community will often see all the other projects as evil. They will consider Bitcoin as the only possible solution (God). Bitcoin is also the answer to many feelings of resentment against today’s society. Stacking sats is the ritual followed by many to show belonging. Steadily acquiring small portions of Bitcoin is a way to show faith in the community.
Satoshi just gave us technology and some values without revealing its identity. We can say the same about Jesus, who gave us some code to defend and many rules on how to act in the world. Satoshi mimics this behavior. The truth once again is given, not found by its participant.
What makes the two things quite similar to each other is the constant attachment to the future. “You might not see the good things now, but believe in it and the future will look clear and bright” — said a member.
A technology imposing rules above any humans, coming from a mysterious person, is the perfect mix to create faith. Hopefully, for humankind, it will also bring something fruitful.
The founder of (the vision of) Ethereum is part of this list. The community created around this vision has a relevant dimension. The mechanics here are a bit different from Bitcoin. This guy is an actual person, alive, giving interviews and speeches. Vitalik Buterin is not much different from Elon Musk and other entrepreneurs. Many people follow his lead and get inspired by his talks. Here the religious aspect is less relevant. This community is more pragmatic and focused on delivering value, despite inheriting many rituals and rules from the crypto world. The clash between Eth and Btc communities resembles the one between Catholics and Protestants. There is no blood on the street, but the intensity is quite heavy. Despite defending values different than their cousins, it is still problematic. The truth is given and not found.
Here we reach another peak of Godness. The founder of TerraLuna had created a very tight community of believers that once again got the truth from him instead of founding it by themselves. The whole algorithm sustaining the growth of the project was based on faith. We will get back to this point later on because it is one of the main misunderstood points of blockchain systems. Subscribe to my newsletter to avoid missing it.
Back to Terra, the community lost tightness when the project collapsed and the founder stopped being a public figure. The main lesson here is that people are not gods. Admiring a person is good until a certain point. Never put in discussion what they said is the worst position to be in. Idolizing people is never a good idea. Do Kwon showed us that you could end up quite hurt.
The god of DeFi. In DeFi is the money that rules. The truth is given by the highest APY and highest TVL. In this community, everything built by Andre Cronje is also the truth. Whatever protocol, regardless of utility, is the way. The community of #gm Discord’s channel, hoping to find another Ponzi scheme to subconsciously ride. There are still rituals and beliefs. I would put the diamond hands rituals here. Never sell, despite a market crash or an exponential growth in the asset. Toxic behaviors are common across many DeGen individuals. The community is offering to belong to a group of smart people making money. Participating in the future of finance, right? Without caring too much about the impressive Ponzi scheme they are building.
and many others
The more you go in-depth into this world, the more you will encounter toxic behaviors. There are many gods in this Pantheon professing all similar stories. NFTs, shitty coins, and Scammers. Everyone is showcasing his beliefs to attract as many people as possible. Despite money being the driver of many, the identity and purpose that those projects will give you may be even more fascinating for many.
Science and Engineering should never give you truths. This discipline should always offer empirical data and methods to uncover the truth. In web3 slang, the last sentence translates to:
(Whatever Web3 technology) should never give you beliefs and belonging. This (Whatever Web3 technology) should always offer use cases and methods to deliver tangible value to you.
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