Blockchain Cities and Forbidden Cubes: 6 Times Crypto and NFTs Got Really, Really Weird

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From the questionable effects of Elon Musk’s hold on the Twitterverse to the volatile influence of pop culture at large, cryptocurrencies and NFTs already exist in subcultures that the average person might consider a bit strange. So when things involving crypto and NFTs get weird enough to give their devotees pause, they’ve usually crossed into tremendously bizarre territory — at least to the rest of us.

But just how weird is “Bitcoin weird”? Check out these instances in which NFTs and digital currencies prompted amusing, absurd and sometimes slightly cultlike behavior to find out. 

The Rise of the Blockchain City

A Wyoming decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) has purchased 40 acres of land dedicated to building its own blockchain-based city. You, too, can be a founding member of “CityDAO” by purchasing one of 10,000 NFTs available for .25 ETH. The purchase scores you voting rights, membership in the project’s Discord group and the ability to eventually settle the land when things get to that point.

But things are even more intense over in El Salvador, which in 2021 adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. President Nayib Bukele recently announced plans to build an entire “Bitcoin city” backed by Bitcoin bonds. The 40-year-old President says the city will include “Residential areas, commercial areas, services, museums, entertainment, bars, restaurants, airport, port, rail — everything devoted to Bitcoin.” 

Supervised Visitation of the Tungsten Cube

Photo CourtesyL THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/AFP via Getty Images
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Tungsten what now? In case you’re unfamiliar, tungsten is a type of metal that weighs approximately 1.74 times more than lead. And, for whatever reason, the crypto world is mildly obsessed with it. Becoming the proud owner of a tungsten cube has become a bit of an inside joke among crypto aficionados over the past few years, so Midwest Tungsten Service, a supplier of raw metals, decided to cash in on the trend in a big way. 

The company decided to create a 14.545-inch cube that weighs in at approximately 2,000 pounds…and sell access to it in the form of an NFT. The company announced that the NFT buyer would technically own the cube and inherit annual visitation rights to see and photograph it once per year. The plan proved bizarre enough to go off without a hitch, and the NFT sold for $250,000 in late 2021. 

Spike Lee’s Crypto ATM Commercial

Back in July of 2021, Oscar-winning director Spike Lee took to the airwaves to promote a Bitcoin ATM called Coin Cloud. Throughout the two-minute commercial, Lee presented cryptocurrency as the great equalizer for traditionally marginalized groups such as women and people of color. “Old money — as rich as it looks — is flat-out broke,” he said. “They call it green, but it’s only white.” While Lee advised viewers to do their own research, the message was clear: Crypto is everyone’s chance to skirt around the wealth barriers of traditional currency. 

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The only problem? His vision of digital currency as an intro into an elite new world of wealth is pretty questionable right now. Cryptocurrencies across the board are still relatively new and only owned by less than one-quarter of Americans —not to mention that digital assets are volatile and prone to large price swings that can lose investors money as quickly as they can generate it. While Lee’s ad seemed to be an attempt to popularize crypto among mainstream Americans, it mostly just came across as bizarre and a little off-brand. 

The Billion-Dollar Eye-Scanning Orb Company

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Tech investor Sam Altman really wants to scan your eyes, and he’s willing to give you cryptocurrency to do it. His newly launched startup, Worldcoin, is handing out free crypto to users who sign up by having their irises scanned. Why? No one’s entirely clear on that yet, but Worldcoin CEO Alex Blania has hinted that the company is working on new infrastructure that could someday generate a universal basic income. 

The eye-scanning orbs have already been shipped to testers in 12 countries, who use them to scan people’s eyes and then encrypt the scans into unique code. Apparently, they then delete the original data in the name of user privacy. While it may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, we’ve seen from social media that very few people are above giving out personal data for free, let alone in exchange for crypto assets.  

Everything About “Right-Clicker Mentality”

It’s no secret that the internet and texting have generated countless examples of new lingo. From “LOL” to “diamond hands,” various new abbreviations and phrases are cropping up among different digital communities every day. “Right-clicker mentality” is one of the latest among the NFT crowd. The phrase first popped up in a tweet of frustration over someone who bragged he’d recreated a $2,000 steak made by Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe (aka Salt Bae) for around $90 at home. 

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“This is a great example of right-clicker mentality,” Tweeter Midwit Milhouse later explained. “Sure, you can make your own gold-coated steak for 65GBP, but then you don’t have the satisfaction, flex, clout that comes from having eaten at Salt Bae’s restaurant.” The term is now used to apply to people who don’t understand why some pay millions to own an NFT of an image you could literally just right-click on and download for free. Some people just don’t get it.  

The DogeCoin Bitcoin Conference Interruption

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Realistically, DogeCoin in and of itself is a prime example of how normal rules don’t tend to apply in the world of crypto. The altcoin was first created by a pair of software engineers named Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer as a joke that was meant to poke fun at Bitcoin. Little did the two know that the coin, which was outfitted with the face of a Shiba Inu dog from a popular meme, would become one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies with a market cap in the billions.  

DogeCoin, or “Doge” as it’s known among fans, largely owes its success to the cultlike following it’s attracted and to outspoken celebrity backers like Elon Musk. But the DogeCoin fandom has gotten so out of control that it’s now seeing its own interruptive memetic trend — you know, like planking — emerge. In June of 2021, someone known as “dogeboy” crashed the Bitcoin Miami Conference. Dogeboy stormed the stage and ripped off his suit to reveal a Shiba Inu shirt underneath before proceeding to shout “DogeCoin to the moon!” and get himself forcibly removed from the event. That’s some Doge-gone dedication.

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