Cryptocurrency enthusiasts tend to use the word “community” and I smirk every time I see it. They most likely mean “audience.”

An audience has a shared interest or a common goal, but members of an audience only help each other in extreme conditions or when it’s convenient. They usually congregate for an event and disperse at its conclusion. Conversely, a community is a group of people assembling for something more than the event. An audience shows up for the band and leaves after they finish playing, a community is the group of frequent patrons talking at the bar after the show long into the night. Neither is better than the other, they’re just different levels of depth - not all congregations can, will, or should become communities. But the dynamic of an audience is transactional while communities are charitable. One is a consumer group, the other a producer group. Reactive versus proactive. Communities aren’t required to produce tangibles or deliverables - many do, but they’re often just people who encourage and recognize each other. They keep you coming back to that particular bar.

Most cryptocurrency projects have a community of developers and an audience of users - and to be honest, I feel even that word carries too much respect in casual use. People who care about decentralization to the extent that it assists them in accumulating more United States dollars. People who want everything immediately without giving anything in return. People who feign interest in a project, asking developers when their airdrop is so that they can dump it immediately. There are a small amount of builders and a large amount of people who wait for “devs to do something” in order to extract value.

(An aside: A developer is not a coronated being, a developer is someone who learned a piece of technology in order to build or to solve a problem. Don’t cry about a lack of developers or the pace of development - become a developer.)

In a way, I can’t blame them for some of their actions. At present day, things are tough all over. On top of that, some people aren’t really into technology or finance, or maybe they have other obligations that prevent them from being able to put in the time. But I can blame them for their parasitic attitudes and lack of respect. Torchbearers of the “fuck you, I got mine” culture.

Much like survivalists with bug-out bags and tacticool gear, people in desperate financial situations often pursue flashy solutions to ease their fears: jumping from one “get rich quick” scheme to the next. The real way to survive isn’t sexy: build a community of like-minded people who share the same ethics and develop skills to solve problems together. There will always be a shinier object to chase, but the more often you change strategies, the more likely you are to get burned. When that happens - and on a long enough timeline, it will - what do you have to show for your time? Did you learn any new skills, meet anyone? Or did you just get lucky for a period of time?

It’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to hold conviction when it seems like others are moving faster than you, have more than you, or have something better than you. But commitment builds trust. You can devote more resources to development when you don’t have to worry about a trust factor and its overhead. You can do more with people when you know they’re being honest and truthful. Cryptocurrency was conceived as a programmatic means of eliminating the need for intermediaries. Until we can correctly build out technology that can make operations truly decentralized and autonomous, building a culture of consistency and honesty is the best interim solution. To really grow, start affecting the world, and displace this opaque, rife-with-fraud traditional finance system we’ve all grown up in, we have to build communities. Audiences are not good enough.