Emphasis on ‘cult’

Casimir Stone
May 26, 2022

Aside from being a far better writer (and far less out-of-touch with the kids these days) than us, we brought Zizi on board because we needed a little genuine optimism to offset our prevailing mood of nihilistic snark. Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s taste of hopefulness while it lasted. Because, unfortunately, for every new exciting bit of potential the technology displays, there’s always a maggot-infested flipside there to justify my lack of faith.

In the case of identity, I do believe the anonymity of web3 can be liberating for those who don’t feel free to be themselves IRL. In many cases, these people are repressed, marginalized, or otherwise misfits who deserve the equitable platform they’ve been denied for so long. In some cases, however, people hide their voice or views because they would be renounced and ridiculed by polite society en masse — and rightfully so.

Take, for example, ‘Charlotte Fang’, the founder of the Milady NFT collection. A fairly run-of-the-mill PFP, the Miladies were, until a few days ago, best known for their Y2K street style aesthetic and the ‘highly customized Minecraft server’ to which hodlers have exclusive access. Well, all that promise is gone to shit now, as it came out that Charlotte Fang is, in fact, a well-documented 4Chan troll, and the collection is packed with enough right wing dog whistles to leave a Labrador retriever stone deaf. Fang’s transgressions — dismissed as ‘trolling‘ and ‘performative net art‘ in official apologies — reportedly include ‘discussing a voting ban for black people, homosexuality as a disease, killing Jewish people and women as something to be “tamed”‘.

Those are just the warm-ups though. The bulk of ire seems to be directed toward Fang’s ties to a white supremacist movement called Kali Yuga Accelerationism, a cyber suicide cult called Systemspace, and an online culture called ‘pro-ana’ in which anons groom young users into developing eating disorders. So, like, three solid reasons for me to remain out-of-touch with the kids these days. (Ironically, Kali Yuga Accelerationism is one of the primary reasons the founders of Yuga Labs have been accused of trafficking in racism themselves.) Fang has since stepped down, but, helpfully, remains ‘more bullish than ever for Milady’. I almost certainly wouldn’t have heard of it otherwise, so, yeah, that tracks. 

It’s not like extremist assholes didn’t rise to prominence in web2, or web1, or, you know, every major industry since the rise of the Western world. But it is a little baffling how often I find myself reporting on stories that hit the exact same beats as this one. A promising NFT collection with an anonymous founder meets a couple Reddit detectives who pull back the mask, and, surprise! It’s not a cute anime avatar! It’s a Nazi! I can’t help but imagine the anonymity of web3 contributes to this phenomenon. Like 4Chan before it, anonymous technology may not necessarily radicalize its user base, but it does attract the free radicals. I hope Zizi is right, and enough good actors run to web3 to remake it in their own image. But I worry the culture they’re running from beat them here.

No Account Yet? Sign Up Here