A Complete Newbie Explores NFTs on Social Media
After learning how to protect her newly-acquired NFTs last time out, Jazz takes a dive into the social communities across the WAX blockchain.
With a name like Jazz, it’s practically inevitable that I ended up as a massive hippy.
My parents, psychedelic flowers that they are, blossomed out of the 60s, and my own existence isn’t too far removed from a generation fuelled by flower-power and love-ins. I grew up going to music festivals and Hare Krishna temples, and it was among these dreadlocked and flower-laden free spirits that I developed my passion for community.
While I haven’t quite packed up shop and started a commune (yet), I am a sucker for anything that connects people, and, in a roundabout way, this is how I ended up in the NFT space.
As a little hippy kid, I loved to collect weird things. At one time, my most prized possessions were my moss and lichen collection, then my troll doll collection, then my Rugrats memorabilia… but of course, like everyone else, I was also caught up in the collectibles craze that swept through my primary school.
In many ways, stepping into the NFT space harkens back to those days. If you’re around my age, I can pretty much guarantee you were a fellow collector of Pokémon cards. The most exciting thing in your life, at the time, was opening a new card pack and showing them off to your friends; it was memorising all 150 Pokémon and bragging about it; it was transacting clandestine trades under the desk when the teacher wasn’t looking.
These were collectables that created an entire community, even a movement, around them.
While I did love my moss and lichen specimens, it was a hobby that existed entirely in a vacuum – it lacked community and a connection. This, I would wager, is why moss and lichen collecting failed to catch on, while Pokémon is a $95 billion franchise.
The excitement that stole the hearts and minds of the card-collecting children of the 90s is being revived in a new generation of enthusiasts and I, it seems, am among them. I’ve moved from fungus, to trading cards, to online assets, and I suddenly find myself reliving the high that came from catching a much-coveted glimpse of a Mewtwo.
My childhood trading card folders have been transformed into digital collections where I can watch the empty outlines of my Cat Stickers fill up every time I buy a fuzzy little NFT. Most importantly, I can share that experience with others. Pride of ownership coupled with a sense of belonging is a powerful thing and, although these experiences have been transferred to the digital realm, they are no less potent.
I can already see that this sort of rich community experience extends beyond just collectible NFTs (the gaming world has been doing this for decades) and, as blockchain gaming gains traction, it’s richer than ever – both literally and figuratively.
While gamers have the unfortunate reputation of being social recluses, they are arguably the experts in online communities. I’m no gamer myself, but I’ve dated enough of them to recognise that the online gaming world is immensely social. I might have poked fun at my partner’s ‘internet friends’ in the past (okay, I still do), but making my own internet friends has made me realise just how important and engaging these online connections can be.
Then we come to the NFT art world. As an artist and a jeweller, I’ve worked in markets where fellow creators support each other, and I currently operate out of a studio in a seven-story artist’s complex, surrounded by other creatives. I know I said I haven’t started a commune, but I did actually live in one for a while, dedicated to art and permaculture.
I love being part of this community and am ecstatic to have stumbled across digital spaces in which that same ethos exists – support, collaboration, encouragement, and the shared sense of creating something exciting together.
The communities I’ve been a part of until now have been governed largely by physical space – whether that be a town, a building, or a collection of ramshackle tents pitched on a hill in the Portuguese countryside – but digital communities are unbound by geography. Instead they inhabit the digital spaces that best serve their purposes.
Since jumping on this fast-moving bandwagon, I’ve been taken on a tour of the online hangouts of the NFT community, and am finding things I never would have imagined going in.
There are three pillars of the NFT social media space – Twitter, Discord, and Twitch – and each one serves a particular facet of the community. In the last month, I’ve gone from not engaging with these spaces at all, to spending an enormous amount of time exploring both the vastness and the depth of the community through these three platforms.
I have to admit; I heavily resisted Twitter for a long time, and until very recently, I had exactly zero interest in either writing or reading any 140-character-long quips. Since zero multiplied by anything is still zero, my interest didn’t change when character limits doubled.
What did finally change my mind was the realisation that I’d be locked out of a big part of the NFT action if my disdain for the little blue bird continued. With a heavy sigh, I opened my first Twitter account long after the rest of the world, and was immediately thrust into the immensity of the NFT community and their microthoughts.
While I’m yet to master the art of succinct but engaging content, I am starting to see Twitter’s value in this space. Developments in the crypto and NFT worlds move at a pace that makes my head spin, so an equally fast-paced social network makes sense.
Not only that, but because of the nature of retweets and replies, I’ve been quickly connecting with new projects and discovering diverse creators with remarkable efficiency. It’s like an enormous ‘friend of a friend’ network in which everyone’s conversations are broadcast for the world to see.
Compared to some other platforms, Twitter feels like a refreshingly egalitarian space and that enhances the sense of real community that others sometimes lack.
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I felt a flash of pride when I woke this morning to find DYGYCON had retweeted me. Last week, my partner called me over excitedly to say that he’d been retweeted by WAX. Maybe it’s the hippy coming out, but when these big players pay attention to relatively small fries like us, it feels like we really are all in this together.
One of the things I’ve been enjoying most about the Twitter space are the aptly named Twitter Spaces. These are public voice calls that any listener can request to join, which, as someone obsessed with community and connection, is wholly appealing.
When I listened in to my very first Twitter Space, I immediately felt like part of a little family. I followed each of the other listeners, and not long after, one of those listeners joined my Discord server and has become one of the most active members there.
This brings me to what I would call the heart of the NFT community. I’m convinced that Discord servers are where real connection is built, where creators engage directly with their fans, and where those fans interact with each other.
I’ve talked about this a little bit before, but I really can’t overstate what a huge impact some of these servers have had on my (brief but passionate) NFT journey. In a lot of ways, interacting with this community through Discord is perhaps the closest I’ve gotten to the ‘real-life’ equivalent.
Opening Discord for the first time was like visiting the local bar in a city I’ve just moved to – in my case, my local was AtomicHub in the city of Non-Fungible Town.
The place was packed, overwhelming, and exciting, and after a little while I got to know some of the regulars (plus the bartenders were really nice). It didn’t take long before I started following those regulars to parties of their own, where I met more regulars who were hosting more parties, and so on.
Joining the servers of other projects was where I really started feeling part of the community myself – not as an observer, but as a participant. I’m still the new kid but I’ve been welcomed with open arms, and now I’m throwing around cat memes and Pepe emojis with the best of them.
I take great joy in sharing screenshots of my new NFTs in their creators’ servers, and watching others do the same, waiting excitedly to see who got mint #1 – it’s like flashing our Pokémon cards all over again.
The only thing better than doing that in a server, is doing that via video. While Twitch is more of a streaming platform than a community platform, the live chat feature opens up a two-way street of communication. Plus, I can see my messages floating above the head of the streamer in real-time which I always get a kick out of in an ‘I’m on TV!’ kind of way.
So far I’ve really only dipped my toes into the blockchain game streaming side of Twitch, which is still surprisingly entertaining, even as a non-gamer. I do follow a handful of game projects, simply because I was taken in by the creators themselves, and as a result became invested in their work.
It’s nice to jump into a Twitch stream to hear the brains behind Costume Clash bantering with his viewers about Smarties while showing off the latest map in his in-development racer, or to watch a dead anthropomorphic marshmallow get waved around the fields of Immersys while the streamer answers questions about his metaverse project.
A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have had a clue what was meant when people started teasing one well-known Play-To-Earn (P2E) streamer about his relationship with Vegemite, but somehow I’m now in on these little jokes. I can giggle about concentrated yeast paste along with everyone else and, strange as that may seem, it’s a sign that I’m part of the community.
On Twitch, as in Discord and Twitter, the regulars all show up, and I’ll often get a ‘Hi Jazz!’ thrown at me from one of my very own internet friends upon entering. It feels good to be a part of something, and rather than the busyness of a bar or a party, these livestreams seem to emulate the atmosphere of a lazy Sunday afternoon playing Xbox with your friends (which even I’ve taken part in).
While the setting has changed dramatically, the sense of belonging is akin to the music festivals of my youth, and my inner hippy is glowing at all this community interaction.
Now all I need is for someone to start making moss and lichen NFTs and my life will be complete.