May 21, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 68°F

Opinion

Editorial: NFTs have negative long-term effects

2014 marked the experimental era of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). 2021 was the year of the NFT explosion, making any digital image available for purchase. Moving from the obscure internet into the mainstream, 2022 projects us into the future of NFTs — the blockchain movement is here. However, the path forward is twofold. 

On the one hand, the future of NFTs provides an opportunity to the otherwise ordinary individual to be a part of something and experience financial success in ways which were never accessible before — this is the bright, hopeful, even abundant side. The more glum, corrupt and arguably realistic side results in financial instability for those who do not have the knowledge it takes to succeed in this rapidly growing market: 21st-century artists getting ripped off rather than protected, allowing a place for global tycoons to take refuge and environmental harm due to the sheer amount of energy that is required. The degree of environmental damage is not yet known and not worth finding out.  

The pressure to know every detail and absorb every understanding of NFTs feels ever present, yet it is a nearly impossible and a futile feat. With this limited understanding of the NFT comes a limited understanding of what is to come. In other words, the naive glorification of the short-term benefits negates its long-term effects.

While the solution is not to wish for days of an internet-free world, as we would miss the comforts we are afforded effortlessly today, a solution is neither found with hopeful projections into an uncertain future — nostalgia is dangerous when dwelling on the past. It is also dangerous when projecting into a future of possibilities unknown. Have we not been down this road before? Haven’t we read many a cautionary tale of such exponential progress resulting in a halting crash?

Are the short-term benefits going out to outweigh the long-term damage? The short answer is no. The long answer is absolutely not. Let us pump the brakes. We do not need to project at full speed into a new future investing in the shiny tokens before us. NFTs cause us to be distracted from our current problems which have been glaring at us for far too long. Instead, let’s focus our attention here, on the present. On what is already broken at the center — a pressing climate crisis, poverty and a greedy 1% happy with the way things are — for the center will not hold much longer.

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline