Web3 offers a cure for toxic pop culture
From Mozart and Madonna to the Beatles and Harry Styles, for as long as a culture has existed, it’s been built on the backs of the fans and creators they admire and obsess over. And while our access to culture has rapidly advanced and recycled over the decades (disco is in, disco is out, disco is back, etc.) via seismic shifts in technology and the media, we ask ourselves: better? Or just more toxic and complicated?
Anne “Well” Ouellet is the Marketing Director of Galx. This article is part of CoinDesk “Cultural week”.
As pop culture has become “a thing,” fandom has followed a winding path toward the challenging and even the dangerous. Beatlemania got so manic that the Fab Four said they were “done” performing live in front of real people. Later, the world lost John Lennon to a fame-hungry fan. The Swifties waged a quick war against Ticketmaster and the US government, Beyonce Beyhive’s fan base is ready to sting at any moment.
On TikTok, the toxic fandom is almost as strong as its algorithm, where the fandom has been deafening, destructive, and downright confusing. Is it any wonder that TikTok now imposes a 60-minute screen time limit for kids? And why stop there? Most would agree that we need less food in our lives.
In an industry that has the potential to disrupt everything we know about what being a fan means (and its potential), what are we really fighting to change in Web3?
Kill your idols
We don’t need to spin a broken record and get poetic about how Web3 technology will save music, sports, fashion and the film industry. In the spirit of Web3, DYOR – do your own research.
Instead, to truly fix fandom, we need to rethink what it means to be a fan – in both Web2 and Web3. What drives brands to pay celebrities seven figures to pose with skincare products or dive into a bag of chips in a tuxedo? For the most part, brands aren’t banking on an influencer’s ability to comment on high fructose corn syrup levels in a product, they’re banking on idol worship — and idol worship is dangerous.
From pop culture to politics, things eventually go downhill when people put all their faith in an individual. Yes, Web3 has had its fair share of influential and well-meaning leaders, but the power of Web3 is that influence doesn’t (shouldn’t even) need to be in the hands of a centralized entity or a divinity, but rather with a community that possesses the tools to govern itself.
Let’s be real, though: there’s a lot of idol worship in Web3, and the fandom often revolves around it. Would you be so shocked to find a Bored Ape altar in a crypto-brother’s living room? Or do you hear someone living their life by Logan Paul’s 10 Commandments? Are we so surprised that Sam Bankman-Fried followed Do Kwon? Why put our blind fandom into people and platforms when we can fly the flag for what our industry promises to achieve?
The promise of fandom in Web3 is not to blindly follow and obsess over the words or actions of those we admire. The promise is to help move forward and benefit from the ideals with which we align. When the fandom has substance driven by ideals — not the likes, the number of followers, and the loudest, most controversial voices in the room — people might start doing important things again.
Make you feel good being a fan in Web3
A meaningful future for fandom in Web3 can mean many things: a culture of loyalty, financial freedom, collective ideals and ownership, shared success and even challenges. While we’ve come a long way as an industry and a community, we still have a long way to go in forging a new path for fans, whether it’s around technology, communities, or creators. An innovative culture of fandom in Web3 has the potential to be about more than your pfp (profile picture), your favorite Discord, your oversized hoodie, or who’s at your table in that NFT.NYC 2021 photo.
Full disclosure: I write these words while proudly wearing my Forgotten Runes hat and PoolTogether t-shirt – communities I’m proud to fangirl because they’re more than idolized leaders, but people who are invested in create something bigger than themselves. We can be more than the symbols we display, which can sometimes feel like a recycled version of the herd mentality fandom we criticize in Web2. It’s up to us to dig deeper.
As an industry, Web3 is at an inflection point where we need to “do” much more than we “show” and especially “tell”. Actions speak louder than words, so let’s actually build things we’re proud to be fans of. Our culture deserves it.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.