The Perils of Cryptocults and Tribalism in the Crypto Space

The Perils of Cryptocults and Tribalism in the Crypto Space
Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

This is two-part blog post exploring the world of tribalism in the crypto space. This blog post is based on a solo Crypto Unplugged Podcast episode published on the 7th July 2022.


As an avid fan of the TV show American Horror Story, an intriguing character named Kai Anderson sparked my curiosity about the concept of cults. This led me to explore the parallels between cultism and tribalism in the crypto world. In Part 1, we'll delve into the curious case of cultism in American Horror Story, define what cults and tribalism mean in the crypto context, and examine the thin line between community and tribalism. Part 2 will continue our exploration, analyzing the motivations behind joining cryptocults, the dangers of dogmatic maximalism, and the impact of tribalism on mass adoption. So, let's dive into this enthralling subject and examine how tribalism manifests in the crypto community.

The Curious Case of Cultism in American Horror Story

As an enthusiast of American Horror Story, I came across season seven titled "Cult." The portrayal of a character named Kai Anderson, who quickly became the leader of a cult, fascinated me. His followers blindly followed his every word without questioning his actions or beliefs. This storyline got me thinking about tribalism and how it might relate to the crypto space.

My Curious Habit - Researching While Watching

Before delving deeper into the topic, I must confess to my strange TV-watching habit. Whenever something sparks my interest in a show, documentary, or movie, I pause to research it further. This habit led me to stumble upon an article titled "How to Leave a Cult" on Wikihow, which piqued my curiosity even more. While I haven't been part of a cult, I realised that some elements of societal pressure and conformity might resemble cult-like behaviour.

eyes within the mask derived from the following:

Photo by Robert Zunikoff / Unsplash

Defining Cults and Tribalism

To fully understand tribalism in the crypto space, let's define what a cult means in this context. In simple terms, cults can be social groups with shared beliefs, rituals, or a common interest in a personality, object, or goal. In the crypto world, cultism and tribalism often overlap, leading to intense loyalty towards certain projects or cryptocurrencies. However, let's explore whether tribalism can be beneficial or harmful to the crypto community.

Maximalism and Toxic Tribal Traits

In the crypto space, we frequently encounter "maximalists" who fervently support a single cryptocurrency while dismissing all others. This form of tribalism can lead to toxic behaviour, vilification of opposing views, and a lack of critical thinking. It's essential to consider whether such extreme loyalty benefits or hinders the overall development and adoption of cryptocurrencies.

The Thin Line Between Community and Tribalism

While building communities around crypto projects is essential for growth and development, it's crucial to differentiate between healthy community engagement and harmful tribalism. Some communities adopt humorous names, but it's essential to avoid toxic behaviour that undermines the potential benefits of collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

Anecdotal Evidence - The Scott Melker Example

Let's explore the impact of tribalism in the crypto community through a real-life anecdote. I stumbled upon an eye-opening podcast episode on YouTube by Scott Melker, known for his "Wolf of All Streets" podcast. In this particular episode, he interviewed Charles Hoskinson, the co-founder of Ethereum and founder of Cardano. The topic? Tribalism and crypto, strikingly similar to what we're discussing here.

During the interview, Charles Hoskinson shared his own experiences with crypto tribalism. He recounted an incident at a Bitcoin conference where toilet paper was thrown at him, and how he's been called derogatory names during crypto events. These encounters shed light on the darker side of the crypto community, where tribalism can manifest as aggressive behaviour towards those perceived as outsiders.

My Reaction and Unfollowing in the Dotsama Communities

Now, let me share my own experiences from last year. As you may know, I've been vocal about projects like Polkadot and Kusama in various podcast episodes. However, I don't identify as a maximalist in any sense. I do hold Polkadot and Kusama, but I'm not blind to the fact that every project has its strengths and weaknesses.

Last year, before the parachain auctions, the crypto Twitter sphere went into a frenzy with the Polkadot and Kusama communities taking centre stage. While I believe in certain projects, I found some of the behaviour and rhetoric intolerable. So, what did I do? I started unfollowing accounts that I felt were blindly devoted to a cult-like mentality.

Let me clarify something. My decision to unfollow wasn't about disassociating myself from crypto cults per se; it was more about preserving my feed for educational content. I value learning and research, but I couldn't stand the irrational shilling that cluttered my timeline.

dots and mirror
Photo by Tusik Only / Unsplash

Conclusion of Part 1: Cultism or Community - Finding the Balance

In this first part of the blog post, we explored the concept of tribalism in the crypto space. We saw how extreme loyalty and maximalism can lead to toxic behaviour, hindering the progress of the industry. However, it's essential to remember that building communities around crypto projects can also foster collaboration and mutual support. In part two, I'll dive deeper into my observations and provide insights on whether tribalism has a place in the crypto space and how it might impact its future.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog post, where I'll continue my exploration of tribalism in the crypto space and share my opinions on its significance and impact on the industry.

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