I will never forget March 12, 2021. It was the day that I fell in love with Crypto. Up until then, I was just casually interested. This is the story of how it happened...
To start, I live in South Carolina. According to Google Search data, my state is one of the states with the least amount of interest in crypto. We rank 49th and are beaten only by West Virginia.
No one I know in my physical proximity uses crypto.
I love technology though, so I've been casually watching the space from a distance since at least 2015. During the bull run of 2017, I bought $15 in Bitcoin as a joke and then did nothing else for several years.
I stayed away because I saw lots of trolls and a lack of diversity. When I looked at the crypto industry, I didn't see myself or anything that made me think it was for me. It was for Bitcoin Bros and people of The Valley, not for a non-binary person living in the Southern United States. I also wasn't quite sure how it all worked.
Since 2017 though, a lot has changed... both in the crypto world and in my personal life. Crypto has withstood a lot of trials, tribulations, and externalities that could have killed it.
Furthermore, the space has started to become more diverse. It's got a long way to go, but in late 2019 I began to see more people like me entering the waters and not drowning. It piqued my interest enough to start paying closer attention.
At the same time, I jumped into the stock market for the first time, and I made a modest return on my investments during the pandemic. As 2020 came to a close, I began to look for ways to diversify my portfolio and increase my risk.
In January of 2021, I stumbled upon an iOS app called Rainbow Wallet. Rainbow is a crypto wallet for Ethereum assets, but instead of being technical or nerdy, it was super cute and friendly! It felt approachable, and it felt like it was made for me. I downloaded it to see how it worked.
Before long, I had purchased my first Ether (the currency within Ethereum), a few alt-coins, a tiny amount of Bitcoin, and some Dogecoin.
Purchasing crypto seriously for the first time was fun and interesting, but I wasn't hooked yet. Even when Dogecoin skyrocketed and delivered me an unbelievable return on my initial investment, I wasn't ready to go much further.
But then, out of nowhere, I stumbled upon MoonCatRescue and everything changed.
MoonCatRescue.com is an old crypto project that was created back in 2017. It was one of the first NFTs to ever exist. It has a lot of historical significance and pioneered many of the trends we see in the space today.
Here is how the project describes itself:
Welcome to MoonCatRescue!
The MoonCats are depending on you!
We are undertaking an Insanely Cute Operation to the moon to save the MoonCats from imminent danger, and we need your help. Are you ready to help?
You may not know this, but there are currently over four billion MoonCats on the moon. Every MoonCat is unique in its own way. These lunar felines live in harmony – they are often found frolicking through craters, batting moon rocks around, and taking long space naps. However, the upcoming solar eclipse threatens their existence (for reasons), and it us up to us to ensure the MoonCat species lives on.
To save the MoonCats we are going to rescue them from the moon and bring them to live on the Ethereum blockchain, where they will be safe and live fulfilling MoonCat lives. We have designed a spaceship, with the latest in litterbox technology, that can fit up to 25,600 MoonCats. If you choose to come along, then it will be up to you to scan for and rescue MoonCats to the safety of the Ethereum blockchain!
MoonCats was a game, an art project, and a story.
Unfortunately, it was ahead of its time and there wasn't enough interest back in 2017 for all the MoonCats to be rescued. A few thousand cats were claimed, but the bulk of them were left waiting on the moon to be rescued.
Flashforward to 2021 and MoonCatRescue.com was rediscovered during the big NFT boom of March. By this point I had minted my first NFT, understood the basic mechanics of how they worked, and was following people on Twitter who actively talked about the ecosystem.
On March 12, one of the people I follow on Twitter shared the link to MoonCatRescue.com, and I instantly knew it was a project worth jumping into. I rescued 3 MoonCats for approximately $30/each and within hours all 25,600 MoonCats were gone. Mission accomplished!
A community quickly sprouted up out of nowhere and grew into a 4,000 member discord group. Within the first few days, these digital pixelated cats I rescued for a few bucks were suddenly being bought and sold on secondary markets for thousands of dollars each. I rejected dozens of offers to buy mine and chose to HODL them instead (hold them).
They were my cats. I rescued them. If I were to ever let them go, it wasn't going to be on a whim to the first person throwing money at me. I also knew there was precedent for historical NFT projects to be worth a lot of money one day. It seemed like a worthwhile investment.
In the weeks that followed, the demand for the cats slowed down and many people moved on. Despite this, a core group of fans and developers stayed around, continuing to grow the community and the possibilities. When the prices fell to new lows, I doubled my investment and purchased 3 more cats.
Over time though, it started to become much more than an investment to me. I could see myself growing attached to these little critters. My pink cat in particular became quite close to me, and I started to set it as my profile picture on Twitter every weekend.
I quickly began to realize that the technology underneath these cats could definitely be the future. If a pixelated cat could capture my heart, I could see it doing so much more.
In 2013, a user by the name of GameKyuubi posted the following drunken message on a Bitcoin forum:
I AM HODLING
December 18, 2013, 10:03:03 AM
I type d that tyitle twice because I knew it was wrong the first time. Still wrong. w/e. GF's out at a lesbian bar, BTC crashing WHY AM I HOLDING? I'LL TELL YOU WHY. It's because I'm a bad trader and I KNOW I'M A BAD TRADER. Yeah you good traders can spot the highs and the lows pit pat piffy wing wong wang just like that and make a millino bucks sure no problem bro. Likewise the weak hands are like OH NO IT'S GOING DOWN I'M GONNA SELL he he he and then they're like OH GOD MY ASSHOLE when the SMART traders who KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY'RE DOING buy back in but you know what? I'm not part of that group. When the traders buy back in I'm already part of the market capital so GUESS WHO YOU'RE CHEATING day traders NOT ME~! Those taunt threads saying "OHH YOU SHOULD HAVE SOLD" YEAH NO SHIT. NO SHIT I SHOULD HAVE SOLD. I SHOULD HAVE SOLD MOMENTS BEFORE EVERY SELL AND BOUGHT MOMENTS BEFORE EVERY BUY BUT YOU KNOW WHAT NOT EVERYBODY IS AS COOL AS YOU. You only sell in a bear market if you are a good day trader or an illusioned noob. The people inbetween hold. In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can only take your money if you sell.
so i've had some whiskey
actually on the bottle it's spelled whisky
This was the origin of the famous term "HODL". It was a drunken typo that morphed into a global meme, quirky symbol, and investor battle cry.
GameKyuubi's post is a good example of what the crypto world looked like at the time to outsiders like me. Very masculine, hyper loud, and kinda obnoxious.
I mention this piece of crypto history because the MoonCat community took this classic Bitcoin Bro meme and reimagined it for our pixelated feline community.
Instead of HODLing our cats, we CUDL them.
It's a fun play on words, but it's also a sign of the times. The crypto world isn't what it used to be, and there's more to it than just finance and investing. Public perception hasn't quite caught up to this development though, and I'm beginning to realize I might be able to play a small role in moving the space forward and bridging the gap between outsiders and insiders.
I understand the objections. I get the hesitancy. And I empathize with how confusing it can feel. From direct experience, it’s clear to me what’s NOT going to compel more normal people to start using crypto.
A white paper isn’t going do it. Being yelled and screamed at by bitcoin bros isn’t going do it. Being told to “have fun staying poor” isn’t going to do it either.
In reality, the path forward for crypto is probably going to look a lot more like CUDLing than HODLing.
To spread to the masses, we’re going to have to lean heavier on fun stories, engaging experiences, and supportive relationships. Our communities are going to have to become more inclusive, accessible, and diverse.
That’s what got me here, and that’s what is going to make me stick around.
Original cover art designed by me.