How to Explain NFTs to People Who Think They're Just JPEGsby@gavinb
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How to Explain NFTs to People Who Think They're Just JPEGs

by GavinOctober 12th, 2021
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The JPEG is not the NFT. An NFT is a token, no different than Bitcoin or Ethereum, meaning they can not be duplicated. NFTs, however, come tethered to a piece of media, and that grants you official, blockchain-certified ownership of that media. It doesn't matter who has it saved, it is yours, and you can prove it.

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If you're active in the crypto space, or more specifically, active in the NFT trading game, you've most definitely seen a post like this one before:

If you understand NFTs, then you don't need me to explain to you how much a post like this misses the point. If you're here because you don't understand NFTs, then mad respect for actually going out of your way to make sense of this, instead of just dismissing the concept, as so many opt to do.

What I find to be the most shocking is who the people making these posts are. It shouldn't come as a surprise when someone who is anti-crypto is also anti-NFT, but it's a significant majority of crypto investors who seem to be the most outspoken about NFTs. For people who otherwise seem to live in the future of finance, they seem to dwell in the past when it comes to the topic of non-fungible tokens.

What's the Difference Between an NFT and a JPEG?

A common error that people make when trying to explain NFTs to those outside of the trading space is that they fail to elaborate on what an NFT actually is. You've likely heard them equated to digital baseball cards, which while that isn't a terrible argument to make when discussing the hobby of collecting NFTs, it fails to make clear what the difference is between purchasing one and just saving a JPEG.

A non-fungible token is exactly that, a token. Similar to a Bitcoin token or an Ethereum token, an NFT is completely impossible to duplicate. These tokens, however, come tethered to external media, such as JPEGs, tickets, documentation, etc.

The media itself is not the NFT, and that is something that most people seem to miss.

Is that media duplicable? Of course it is. Anyone can save a JPEG of anything, effectively duplicating it, but that doesn't make it's theirs. Imagine downloading a world-famous photo like Tank Man or Afghan Girl and trying to explain to someone that that image is yours.

People, rightfully, would think you're insane. Now if either of those images were made into an NFT by the original photographer, and you made the purchase, then you have blockchain-certified authentication that you own it. It doesn't matter who has it saved. It is yours.

So, when explaining this concept to someone, make sure to clearly and correctly explain what an NFT actually is. Explain what it means for it to be a token, then dive into what it means to own a piece of media, then you can try and justify why people buy them.

But Why do People Buy These?

It's a fair question that you may be asked, but really, the honest answer to give is... who cares? Why do people collect Marvel comics, just to shove them into a box somewhere to sit unread? Why do people buy Pop figurines, just to leave them in their plastic case? Why do people hoard Pokémon cards, only to put them in a book and never play the game? Who cares? Some people take interest in collecting novelty figures and NFTs are exactly like that.

People like to collect things because of the satisfaction of having those things. Most people generally accept this and won't bat an eye at someone collecting something that they personally don't take interest in. They understand that it's human nature to want to collect things they like, but for some odd reason, people who collect NFTs are mocked to no end, despite the fact that it is exactly the same. If you're a collector, and you have something that you know to be a knock-off or a replica, even if it's impossible to tell the difference, it will bother you.

When someone just doesn't get the hype surrounding NFT collecting, ask them what it is that they like to collect, then ask them why. They likely won't have much of an answer for you, because it's a really difficult question to answer, but that's the point. It doesn't have to be justified, and neither does the hobby of collecting NFTs.

This article is part of The Gaming Metaverse Writing Contest hosted by HackerNoon in partnership with The Sandbox.

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