The Metaverse has a troll problem

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The Metaverse has a troll problem

If you’ve been following the great Slurp debates of Early May, you’ve probably gone down a rabbit hole of weirdness. The original meme, created by Twitter user RareCandyio (ostensibly the account for an NFT marketplace), sounds like something you’d type after a recreational dose of psilocybin.

“a lotta yall still dont get it ape holders can use multiple slurp juices on a single ape so if you have 1 astro ape and 3 slurp juices you can create 3 new apes,” wrote RareCandyIO. And thus a meme was born.

What the meme means in practice is immaterial. It became fodder for metaverse jokesters who urged their followers to remember that you can use multiple slurp juices on a single ape. Normies picked up the trend, finding the whole thing absurd. And, in the end, it could have ended there.

In today’s high-stakes social media world, however, every trend is scrutinized and, in many cases, misunderstood. To wit, according to Buzzfeed, who recently pulled their own coverage of the Tweet because, apparently, the slurp guy was racist:

“This post was intended to demonstrate the absurdity of the current NFT market. After publication BuzzFeed News learned the account promoting “slurp juice” appears to be associated with another account that has posted extremist hate. We have removed any links to the account so as not to promote the project. As the famous web2 axiom goes, “Everyone loves the slurp juice tweet! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the slurp juice is racist.”

That’s right: the Internet has decided the slurp juice guy is racist because, it seems, they were connected to a guy called CoinYeezy.

But actually, they aren’t.

But maybe they are?

Also, who cares?

And, ultimately, why this matters to anyone is a lesson to future Metaverse creators. Let’s dig in.

Schrödinger’s Nazi

There are two things going on here simultaneously. First, Web2 reporters – present company included – see the web as a linear thing. One connection goes to the next and nuance, something that was always washed away in Web2, is difficult to divine. Therefore when an active troll, usually a younger Web3 adherent, creates a persona of “DEFINITELY NOT A NAZI (LOL)” they are usually taken seriously by the uber-serious denizens and journalists of Web2. This is not a bad thing.

The unfortunate thing is that the subcultures and groups in Web3 are so small and invisible that this kind of trolling – trolling that will be familiar to anyone who knows folks like Weev or has visited 4chan/8kun – is commonplace. In the absence of intelligent conversation, it seems, that all web forums devolve into offensive jokes.

I asked an anonymous friend who is extremely plugged into most of these cultures and he checked the story out. Ultimately, the connection between CoinYeezy and Slurp Guy is correct, but there is more going on than meets the eye.

“Coinyeezy is a known Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision troll. He’s the founder of twetch. He’s not a white supremacist, just a conservative and a troll,” he wrote. “But if coinyeezy says something, it’s 110% a joke meant to be an engagement troll. The core user base on twetch isn’t white supremacists, it’s weirdly devout Christian big blockers.”

In other words, these guys are just jerks and their goal is to gain attention to their favorite blockchain however they can, including by making jokes that can easily be taken out of context.

So here’s the biggest issue. It’s not that this happened or that gullible journalists ran to the anti-Nazi cannons to harsh our slurp juice buzz. It’s not even that the entire thing started inside a Christian conservative social media site dedicated to pissing people off in order to boost BSV. It’s that Metaverse creators are ruining their chances at mass adoption by being dickheads.

While it may seem that all press is good press and while it’s great that at least a dozen more normies know about slurp juice, the tendency for Metaverse creators to sabotage their own good fortune is baffling. Here’s the bottom line: when you’re making millions of dollars selling juices or apes, you are a public figure. The world will begin digging in order to find out who you are. The Web3 ethos states that all should be anonymous and I agree that a DAO dedicated, say, to abortion rights or the prevention of human trafficking, should allow for anonymous donations and voting. But if you are an anonymous artist and you are selling a brand (and you’re not Banksy) chances are you’ll be outed. And when you’re outed the last thing you want your hagiographers to find is an old image of you holding a dead baby seal while draped in a Confederate flag or whatever. This isn’t even a call for self-censorship, it’s just a call for the space to support intelligent commerce and conversation. What this means is that a basic web search shouldn’t dig up a comedy post about how Hitler was right, in a way.

The space is still young and its purveyors have long toiled in obscurity. Now people are actually giving a shit about Metaverse and when they do a little diligence they find the whole thing is a blue cheese wheel but where the mold isn’t good. There’s plenty to eat and enjoy, but every bite brings you closer to something gross. That’s shouldn’t happen anywhere, let alone in a burgeoning industry that purports to bring equality and fun to the masses. Be better.

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John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.He has written eight books including the best book on blogging, Bloggers Boot Camp, and a book about the most expensive timepiece ever made, Marie Antoinette’s Watch. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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