From Pet Rocks to Digital Rocks

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Remember that song: “Tell me why, I bought another pet rock” ?

I think I was 6 or 7 when I first heard that song, which was based on people buying and hoarding pet rocks on eBay back in 1975.

As I am writing this post, I literally found this information on the “Pet Rock” Wikipedia page:

The Pet Rock was created in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl, who ended up selling over millions of rocks for $3.95 each. That’s about $20 USD in 2021, when accounted for cumulative inflation. Bizzare.

Too bad Dahl didn’t think of just selling images of rocks, because earlier this month a Digital Rock JPEG sold for over $2.6 MILLION USD in Etheruem.

Look who’s laughing now, Gary!

Now, these digital rocks are sold under the category of Non-Fungible Tokens “NFT” which are the newest fad in the crypto/blockchain space. Images and digital art are sold on the marketplace OpenSEA. Monthly market transactions are now in the multi-BILLIONS as of September 2021, up from $250 million/month in July 2021. This is insane, yet I don’t know a single person in any of my social circles that actually owns an NFT, and very few people even know the term! These collections are basically marketed as digital footprints, certified unique digital certificates, to show that the digital rock #2349123 that you own is the ONLY copy of that. Look, I like memes just as much as the next person, but come on guys…

I did some browsing on OpenSEA and cannot find the value in these JPEGs, especially since I could basically CTRL+Right click every image, meme, piece of artwork (some really cool, actually), and just save it to my desktop. Do people really care so much about these digital certificates, that they’d pay absurd amounts of money to have their JPEG image be uniquely stamped with a digital code on the blockchain?

I don’t remember learning in my business degree that JPEGs were a reliable store of value. Despite owning cryptocurrencies since 2017, and I am a big believer in the technology of blockchain(s) and digital assets and even interned for a blockchain company, I cannot wrap my head around this new NFT craze.

Anyways… I was very passionate talking about Bitcoin and Ethereum’s potential technological feats in 2017, and always regret not sticking to my gut back then and going all-in (hindsight bias, I suppose). I want to jump in and toss some dumb money at this NFT craze – if not for hoping to hit the lottery on a random JPEG of a meme picture of Ryan Reynolds, then to at least be a part of history? At this point, I don’t know much about this.

This is in all honestly, absurd and almost unfathomable to me. Who knows. Maybe this is my generation’s Tulip Buds and Pet Rocks? But even in those bubbles, people at least got something physical. NFT’s have many negative drawbacks: this looks like an irrational craze, ponzi scheme, potential fraudulent money laundering (art auctions have a history of such), and not to mention the huge electricity usage that blockchain transactions require.

Anyways… I was very passionate talking about Bitcoin and Ethereum’s potential technological feats in 2017, and always regret not sticking to my gut back then and going all-in (hindsight bias, I suppose). I want to jump in and toss some dumb money at this NFT craze – if not for hoping to hit the lottery on a random JPEG of a meme picture of Ryan Reynolds, then to at least be a part of history? At this point, I don’t know much about this. (I hope to do more research on the technological economics + behavioral decisions on this.)

But money is money, and people get interested (like myself). I can’t believe in 2021 people are getting absurdly rich selling JPEG images.

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