NFTs get a bad rap. And we don’t mean mumble-rap bad. We mean Eminem-wrote-a-diss-track-about-it bad. But why do so many people dislike NFTs? Could it just be another new technology that’s making things easier while sounding complicated? Or is it really the wolf in a fancy cashmere sweater that many make it out to be? To answer this, let’s dive deeper into this seemingly shallow technology that the rich seem to be eating up and your friend who thinks they’re better than you cannot digest.
The first step to doing that is understanding what an NFT is. As humans, we tend to fear what we don’t know. So let’s try to wrap our heads around it.
NFT stands for Non Fungible Token. Just replace Non Fungible with irreplaceable (as ironic as that sounds). So NFTs are irreplaceable tokens (think ownership deed) of something in the virtual or physical world. These unique tokens could represent just about anything. From digital art to the deed to a virtual skyscraper, NFTs cover it all.
Now this may make it sound even more materialistic and shallow. Are NFTs just another thing that the wealthy can own and flex? Not really. They are a lot more than that.
NFTs are not exclusive to the members of some rich people yacht club (sorry, Paris Hilton). They’ve actually made certain things a lot more accessible to the world at large. Apart from just taking money out of the Gucci wallets of the rich, NFTs are actually helping people around the world make money. Like never before. Think of NFTs as tools that give independence and ownership rights to creators.
Here’s how they do it:
One of the key characteristics of an NFT is its uniqueness. Just like every human being has a different set of fingerprints, every NFT has a different set of codes or metadata. This is what makes them irreplaceable.
That sounds interesting, sure. But how does that help people earn money?
Well, in the online world, where the theft of intellectual property is as common as pigeons hitting windows in the real world, this changes things. A LOT. In the pre-NFT world, creators shared their art or music or the Internet-knows-what online only to have them stolen or desecrated. Sure, some sites let creators sell their work for a set amount. But there was only so much creators could earn, and they certainly did not get the recognition they deserved.
But with NFTs, creators can digitally sign each creation and sell them in NFT marketplaces. Patrons can be proud owners of unique creations while creators can earn money and recognition for their hard work. NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea and Rarible enable creators around the world to find a global audience, and interested customers can make a bid for the work they like. So it’s like an online auction for every creation. It sure beats trying to get your work recognized in the real world. It didn’t work out too great for Van Gogh. Or that high school kid who tried to get his mixed tape noticed by Dr Dre.
NFTs have made being creative pay. Sure, you may argue that selling randomly generated NFT series is not the peak of human creativity. But, let’s give credit where credit is due. As if modern art wasn’t crazy enough and baffling to the average person, NFTs have taken zaniness to a new level. And this kind of mind-bending zaniness is what has always made art exciting. And the art world is where NFTs have dominated and changed things (some would say for the better. Especially Beeple).
But it’s not just artists who are getting creative with NFTs. Businesses from McDonald’s to that mom and pop store down the road have been using NFTs as tools of promotion. Concert tickets are being sold as NFTs, and special codes are added to tickets with backstage passes. Musicians are starting to release music as NFTs. Video game creators are selling digital assets in games like weapons and buildings as NFTs. Virtual estate in the metaverse are being sold as NFTs. Even real estate, like real real estate, may start being sold as NFTs.
Love them or hate them, but you can’t deny that NFTs have made things convenient for buyers and sellers. Their existence on the blockchain ensures that every NFT transaction is transparent, making it a secure option.
But their existence on the blockchain is what has also led to a hot debate against NFTs. The blockchain is essentially a bunch of computers that are perpetually on, keeping track of every digital transaction that uses cryptocurrency. That doesn’t sound too bad. We all know people who sleep with their laptops on. But where this proves to be a problem is that these hardworking little computers consume a lot of electricity and emit a lot of greenhouse gases.
But NFTs are relatively new, and they make up for a very small portion of blockchain transactions. Efforts are also on to make NFTs more ecofriendly and less of a public enemy. This is being done by opting for greener cryptocurrencies or adopting less energy-consuming models such as the proof-of-stake model. Artists around the world have started a fundraiser, the money from which will be used to pay anyone who comes up with ways to make NFTs greener. So, there is hope yet.
This brings to mind the time that one caveperson started a fire for the first time and freaked out a whole bunch of other cave people with all that heat and smoke and then they all ate roast deer the next day. This whole NFT thing may just turn out okay.
So, if you’re thinking of dabbling in NFTs but your friend who tweets about climate change in an air-conditioned room disapproves, send them this blog. It may not be the perfect diss track to all the NFT haters out there, but it may convince them to – oh who are we kidding? They’re most probably going to send you another blog against NFTs and judge you more.