Non-fungible Sentiment: Exploring the Value of NFTs by@steviesats

Non-fungible Sentiment: Exploring the Value of NFTs

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StevieSats

Eater of bitcoin stories. Spinner of blockchain tales.

At the beginning of 2021, I had a very narrow vision of what NFTs could be. Their look, their feel, their essence… it all fell under a singular umbrella of cartoonish flavor. I had seen pictures of Bored Apes and Crypto Punks floating around, and a couple of my friends had profile pictures that seemed a little less human (and a bit more intriguing) than I was used to.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought these images and ideas were cool. But I guess that was just it…they didn’t make my blood run hot.

That was until I fell in love. Ensnared by the icy gaze of a blue-tendrilled Crypto Chick, destined to be mine.

Her S-shaped curls? Mine. That layered black top? Wear it all the time. Even the exasperated scowl looked like it could play the part.

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So I looked into the artist (@MsPolly11) on Twitter and tumbled down threads praising women-operated art collectives and communities of women around the globe minting their artwork or purchasing NFTs on Open Sea. With more digging, I connected with creatives over mutual objectives in FinTech — then discovered other marketplaces and creators I’d never heard of before.

This one piece was entirely new to me, except for the fact that it slightly mirrored some of the Build-a-Bear-Esque traits of the NFTs my boyfriend had been collecting: mischievous expression, funky outfit, sunset martini backdrop. Layered attributes were laddered together like a colorful recipe. But this chick stood out for a particular reason. She was undeniably femme.

In daylight, she could represent my business — my brand and personality’s web presence. I wouldn’t own the intellectual property rights, but I could still parade the image as an emblem of my involvement in the crypto community as a writer, strategist, and content creator. Under the right conditions, she could represent me.

I’ve been learning a lot about crypto this year — as much as I can wrap my cranium around. But I’ll be honest in that NFTs was sort of the final frontier for me of this entire ecosystem. First, there was too much to understand beneath the surface: smart contracts, minting, gas fees. It seemed a fascinating concept, but I questioned if it was an overhyped fad. If you can “NFT” just about anything, where does it end? The regulation was already way too difficult for me to intuit when it came to Bitcoin, altcoins, and exchanges…never mind an ocean of pricey .jpgs. NFTs interested me, but they didn’t captivateme.

Until I saw this: a minted coincidence met with charming aesthetics and a devilish attitude that held unique value within the communities I cared about.

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Once I started using my digital art as a PFP, it became intertwined with my online identity. It acted as a stamp of approval for many innovators in the tech space along with Discord groups and YouTube followers. Some of the NFTs I started seeing were not only in line with my aesthetic but helped me push beyond it; growing a taste for the eclectic and a penchant for the digital macabre. At times, I felt like I was part of an underground metalcore club by association and I couldn’t help but laugh. This was my first foray into non-fungible artwork, but it certainly wouldn’t be my last.

NFTs can be a little unruly. Whether you’re creating them or buying and selling, there’s an element of intrigue where art collection, hobby, and gambling collide. Being a collector becomes suddenly accessible, personal, and sometimes a little unpredictable.

A non-fungible token is exactly as its name describes: a unique item (documented on the blockchain) that can’t be replicated or substituted, and therefore elevates and destabilizes the traditional meaning of  ownership. It’s also a bit of a rabbit hole where everyone’s allowed to be a little mad and encouraged to express themselves in artful ways.

And that’s kind of the whole point. The value of creation isn’t set by strict rules dictated by some central art authority; it evolves organically within an entire global community. Which is exactly why this cerulean lady meant something to me — whereas to another person, it might just be another one out of 10,000. Or maybe they would find it just as incredible or aesthetically impressive for a different reason.

From certificates of educational achievement (insert cheesy proof of work pun) to video games and real estate, NFTs can cover a lot of ground. There’s something for just about everyone to bond over. And if you don’t see anything out there that speaks to you? Create something that does.

Of course, there’s the argument that trend monetization makes some NFTs shopworn — like a passing fad, it could be a flash in the pan…and more likely someone’s short-term gain than “real” art. But can you ever put a price tag on a network?

Cryptocurrency, and blockchain at its heart, was founded on the idea of connecting people without a central authority to do it. Ledgers are a framework for individuals to come together authentically and exchange value through trust and proof of the work that established it. Each transaction is recorded in good faith — it can’t be changed or moved.

This is blockchain technology’s greatest strength, and it’s no small wonder we see extensions of it from Bitcoin all the way to its use in the arts. Collection, ownership, and purchasing power are the fabric of the social bonds that surround NFTs. Uniqueness, humor, and beauty are what give memes, .jpgs, and innovative music tech their promise — extending beyond currency and into the community. There are all different ways humans determine worth, but there is something most unique about the connections between people that ultimately decide what is valuable.

Disclosure & Thanks: At the time of writing and posting this piece, I own the Crypto Chick NFT mentioned in the article that is also used as my avatar. I was graciously given permission by CC admin to use the images of the chicks featured in the post (thank you!). Nothing within this piece or my work throughout this publication is financial or investing advice. If you are interested in doing any investing of your own, you should conduct your own research and not rely on anything mentioned here.

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