Remember, remember, the third week of January 2018, during which Bitcoin just fell on its face, worth half of what it was a month ago, down over $10,000 per coin in value. On Tuesday night, the top post on Reddit’s r/Cryptocurrency page was a link to a suicide help hotline.
No doubt: Anyone who got in on Cryptocurrency a month ago, compelled by the sudden surge of got-rich-quick wealth that seemingly emerged from this newfangled digital currency? They’ve just lost a lot of money.
And some people…are absolutely loving it.
also lol at the bitcoin crash. thanks for the TV, suckers
— eat a tide pod to support ugandan knuckles (@FakeRobotGamer) January 17, 2018
What you’re seeing (or perhaps, experiencing) is SchadenCoin, the distinct sensation of taking joy in watching cryptocurrencies crash.
What you’re seeing (or perhaps, experiencing) is SchadenCoin, the distinct sensation of taking pleasure in watching cryptocurrencies crash and burn.
Let’s be clear: Whether it’s a Dutch tulip mogul, a gold investor, or a Beanie Baby collector, a Supreme sneaker reseller, or a hedge fund billionaire becoming a hedge fund millionaire, people have always taken pleasure in watching other people lose vast fortunes seemingly gained overnight that was invested in the face of otherwise conventional wisdom.
But SchadenCoin has so much else potentially fueling it besides the basic emotions of watching suddenly-rich people’s wealth (which, of course, is larger than your own) take a sudden and absolute faceplant.
Maybe, for example, it’s the density of understanding it takes to supposedly unpack the true value of cryptocurrency — and how the blockchain technologies powering them operate — that frustrated some people to no end, making otherwise intelligent people feel like maybe they just didn’t get it.
Or maybe it was the added punchline, there, the people who supposedly understand cryptocurrencies it are actually just mumbling words (a now-viral ClickHole video: “Don’t Understand Bitcoin? This Man Will Mumble An Explanation At You“).
It could’ve been the way all the familiar hucksters and snake-oil salesmen and always-up-to-somethings in your life — like, famously, the star of too many YouTube commercials, talking-seven-o-clock-shadow-with-glasses and self-styled financial self-help guru, Tai Lopez — all seemed to jump on BitCoin at once, telling you to invest, invest, invest, whether they tried to tell you directly, or take a more subtle (read: sleazy) tack:
If u havent bought any bitcoin/cryptocurrency might as well try it with a little money right? Worst case its a powerful learning experience.
— Tai Lopez (@tailopez) October 7, 2017
Or maybe it was the way conversations about cryptocurrencies overtook all of the ambient noise around you, from your favorite coffee shops to once ostensibly-decent Brooklyn bars, normally spouted from the mouths of surly men who know better about money things than you, as was the case with a friend just this past Saturday:
Or maybe it truly is the fault of the loudest cryptocurrency cheerleaders, whose perceived smugness over their investing acumen and genius wasn’t so perceived?
Take, for example, some choice cuts from a recent, hilarious, utterly cringeworthy New York Times story that ran in the Styles section just this last weekend, the title of which was “Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not.”
A sampling (emphasis ours):
They talk about buying Lamborghinis, the single acceptable way to spend money in the Ethereum cryptocurrency community. The currency’s founder frequently appears in fan art as Jesus with a Lamborghini. Mr. Buttram says he’s renting an orange Lambo for the weekend. And he wears a solid gold Bitcoin “B” necklace encrusted with diamonds that he had made.
Oh, and also:
As the holiday party filled up, a cryptocurrency rapper called CoinDaddy — Arya Bahmanyar, 28 — was getting ready to perform. […] He pointed to his outfit — a long white fake mink coat, gold-heeled shoes — and said, “It’s gold, right? It’s gold. It’s a niche, and I’m going to fill it.” He says he is going to shoot a music video soon for a song called “Lambo Party” and another called “Cryptomom,” about “all these moms are pumping in their children’s savings accounts.”
Maybe the cryptocurrency rapper with the gold-heeled shoes helped do it.
Whatever it is, SchadenCoin is real. Jackson Palmer, who invented the started-as-a-joke-but-then-became-a-whole-thing cryptocurrency is someone who understands the feeling. “I think it’s partly people who didn’t invest in the thing feeling justified in their previous decision,” he surmised, “and partly the fact that people online just love a bit of drama.”
That said, Palmer’s also empathetic to those on the rougher side of things.
“Sadly, I think most of these people forget the fact that real people are losing out in a big way when these events happen…so,” he continued, “I try to remind myself of that before gloating or saying ‘called it.'”
And it’s not like those who own cryptocurrencies are oblivious to it. If anything, they’re pretty aware of it. Some of them even experience it, themselves, too.
“I think being able to laugh at a pile of burning money is a life-affirming experience.”
“I’ve been thinking about this myself,” noted Aaron Lammer, the Longform co-founder who (along with New York Times and Vice News contributor Jay Caspian Kang) recently launched a podcast on cryptocurrencies called Coin Talk (as you can tell from the show’s art, it’s a hilarious, fun listen whether you own cryptocurrencies or not).
“Even if you’re a perma-bull,” Lammer explained, referring to people forever cheering on the rise of cryptocurrencies, “you’re aware that a significant portion of crypto is a thinly veiled scam. So while it sucks getting ‘rekt’ personally, I’ll admit to a certain glee watching newbie Ripple-fanatics get crushed.”
That said, these crashes could have real, negative implications beyond money for those who, like Palmer, are true believers in the technological capabilities of cryptocurrencies, even if they don’t buy into the financial euphoria of new riches. “These kind of major downturns will sour the public’s opinion of the technology,” worried Palmer, “which could be detrimental to its long term future.” SchadenCoin, let loose, could only make these crashes worse for this technology’s future.
And if that’s indeed the case, then maybe it’s not cryptocurrencies that have to change, but the people who won’t stop talking about them. “Everyone participating in the market could do with a healthy dose of rationalism and skepticism when it comes to what they’re pouring their money into,” said Palmer. “If [these people] took a less aggressive position and stopped yelling ‘blockchain’ at everyone they meet, maybe they’d get some more sympathy when this kind of thing happens.”
“If [these people] stopped yelling ‘blockchain’ at everyone they meet, maybe they’d get some more sympathy when this happens.”
Until then, the crashes — and the SchadenCoin that comes with it — will keep happening. And maybe, whether the people who put their financial fortunes into cryptocurrencies or not change their behaviors, the people who watch them fail will be there to enjoy it. Which prompts the question: What’s really, emotionally and eternally, at the core of enjoying the loss of cryptocurrency money?
“The same thing that motivates people to watch NASCAR just for the crashes, or boxing: to see people beat one another to a bloody pulp,” surmised Palmer.
“I guess it’s a universal human story—someone’s pain is someone’s joy,” Lammer, who himself owns some cryptocurrencies, concluded. “I think being able to laugh at a pile of burning money is also a life affirming experience.”
“That said,” he added, “fuuuuuuuuuck.”