I remember seeing a commercial about 15 years ago that created a tender moment about the older generation's confusion with the internet. It featured a young teenager showing his grandfather what his new phone was capable of. The grandfather marveled in confusion and asked, "so is this the interweb?" That's largely how I have felt about NFTs, but less with wonder and more with indignation.
The older generation aiming to impart a sage warning about the fickleness of new inventions to the excited youth has been around since the beginning of humanity. After I first heard about what an NFT was, I snorted at the concept but then I assumed that as a person in my mid/late 30's that I was reaching the age where new things seemed silly to me. I've been a person who doesn't like a lot of new music for the better part of 15 years, so I think I have a little self-awareness. As the months have gone by, I've softened.
No, I haven't. NFTs are stupid and Tyler the Creator thinks so, too.
The Creator Sounds Off
In an interview that was part of Converse’s 2022 All-Star series, Tyler the Creator was very blunt.
“What the f*ck is a NFT? I paint at home, I play instruments. … I have a friend who’s making me speakers by hand right now. What the f*ck is a NFT?”
He has a point. In this modern era, physical things are being slightly phased out. Kids aren't collecting CDs. A large majority of video games aren't purchased at a store, they're bought online and downloaded. I know how fuddy-duddy this is going to sound, but there is a little bit of magic in buying a CD or video game, tearing open the plastic packaging in a fit of glee and joy, and opening up a product. It doesn't take the joy entirely out. There is quality music being made and some of the best video games ever are also being released. We don't even buy music digitally anymore. My Itunes purchases are collecting digital cobwebs. I could go another aria about how streaming has destroyed the last few dollars musicians were already making, but it's been done.
“None of the examples I’ve seen is, like, beautiful art,” he said. “It’s a f*cking monkey in a Supreme hoodie.” He concluded his point by adding that you “can’t NFT me looking at you in real life.”
This Ain't The First One
NFTs are just the newest version of an awful commodity—except, these don't even have a physical thing you have.
Going far back as tulip mania you have examples of market bubbles. But at least when you bought tulips, Pokemon cards, beanie babies, or even pogs, you had something to take home with you. At least every year or so I research on E-bay whether my brass slammer and Power Ranger pogs are worth a few dollars.
My collection of baseball cards is certainly worth a few dollars if I were to put forth the effort into selling them. All of these could be seen as an indictment against my argument, but nobody on Twitter can take a screenshot and make a jpeg of my 1991 Donruss Kal Daniels baseball card and get the two dollars I would sell for it. NFTs are just a fashion trend. It's about owning the 'art' for the sake of being able to say that you bought it.
If you've got the money to spend to do that, that's good I suppose. Beyond that, there is no cool value in them. In a few years, these non-fungible tokens will have the same value and enjoyability as the Chuck E. Cheese tokens you've got at the bottom of a change drawer.