AAs bitcoin plunged below $20,000 in mid-June, many cryptocurrency users were left shocked by massive losses – with some reporting that they had lost their life savings. But one corner of the internet was cheering: Buttcoin, a Reddit sub-forum launched in 2011 to poke fun at cryptocurrency.
“I’m addicted, I need help,” read one popular post. “I just love watching the line go down too much. I always think ‘after you get through that next helpline you’ll be satisfied’ but there’s ALWAYS another lower level after that.” I actually hope that it’s stabilizing at 20K for tonight,” said another user. “I’m a bit tired and need more time to think of new, cheaper memes.”
A tech worker who frequents Buttcoin told the Guardian they stayed up until 3 a.m. one night watching the crash unfold. “I know this may sound pathetic, but I get a dopamine hit when I see the price of bitcoin drop. It was so exciting.”
The cryptocurrency flirted with its two-year low again this week, which meant a festive mood at Buttcoin. With around 135,000 members, the subreddit is tiny compared to the millions of people who chat on Reddit’s many pro-cryptocurrency forums. But frequent contributors to the community – whose logo replaces bitcoin’s golden ‘B’ with a pair of golden buttocks – describe it as a kind of digital support group, laced with dark humor, for people horrified by the proliferation crypto scams and pyramid schemes. While they may not have the power to destroy cryptography, they can crack jokes when it stumbles. As Buttcoin members say, instead of mining useless digital coins, they are “mining comic gold”.
Much like the crypto culture it pokes fun at, Buttcoin has its own set of memes. Some of them just flip the crypto sayings. Instead of waiting for token prices to go “to the moon”, Buttcoin users are chanting “to the ground”. But the most popular Buttcoin jokes take pro-crypto logic and push it to sarcastic extremes. To confuse crypto promoters’ habit of spreading negative news, Buttcoin users are commenting “It’s good for bitcoin” under stories of cryptocurrency disasters. (Bitcoin was banned in a major country? Good for bitcoin. Bitcoin price plummeting? Good for bitcoin. Someone lost their savings to a bitcoin scam? Got it guessed… good for bitcoin.)
Another crypto slogan smugly referencing the complexity of the technology, “Few understand,” has become a Buttcoin meme in its own right. (For example: a Buttcoin user jokes that the rise in price of a 2003 Toyota Camry amid the crypto crash makes the Camry a superior “store of value.” “Every 2003 Camry has a unique VIN and you can also drive it to the supermarket… Few people understand,” replies another. “It’s good for Toyota,” adds a third.)
Buttcoin’s most senior moderator, a computer scientist who goes by the name of spookmann, told the Guardian that the 11-year-old forum has “changed as crypto itself grew and festered. “Originally the tone was almost entirely ‘Haha…that’s so silly!’ And that element is certainly still there, but nowadays there’s an increasingly tragic element of ‘Ugghh… so many people are having their lives ruined by this fucking thing!’
The biggest posts on Buttcoin are filled with schadenfreude. The subreddit invariably celebrates when bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, dips below token price levels – which for many Buttcoin users is proof that the scam is coming undone. “I get really hopeful when it starts to drop seriously or when a stablecoin system goes down to zero,” said Joe, a systems engineer who browses Buttcoin daily. “There’s kind of a thrill to the validation of this one, right? Especially since the crypto bro stereotypes are so heinous every time they rise in a new bubble.
But the most controversial posts poke fun at crypto investors themselves for losing money – although there is disagreement over how far to go. Some highly rated posts on the subreddit argue that there should be no sympathy for the victims. “They can fuck off,” read one post in late June, with more than 1,500 upvotes: “Criticizing scams isn’t mean. Nor is it a support group to help consoling people who lost all their money on ElonDogPoop Coin. Not all Buttcoin users agree. “Even if they’re assholes, I don’t like the idea of the average [investor] losing their savings even though they should have seen the scam for what it is. It unambiguously sucks,” Joe says.
There’s a “shared pleasure in watching things ignite,” said M, a Buttcoin user and tech industry worker, but he still has “sympathy for those drawn to crypto by family members or the promise of a better life… Times are tough for most He pointed to the victims of Celsius, an unlicensed crypto ‘bank’ that offered massive returns at over a million investors in an alleged Ponzi scheme that collapsed earlier this summer.The court testimony – which included calls from ordinary people who lost their life savings – was “heartbreaking,” Mr.
Because Reddit’s pro-cryptocurrency forums are quick to delete critical posts, Buttcoin is also attracting users looking to empathize with loved ones who have been caught up in the scam. One support seeker was Izzycc, a 23-year-old social work student whose eight-year-old boyfriend had become depressed after being sucked into NFT fashion and losing money.
“I absolutely pray for the fall of cryptocurrency,” she wrote. “It would mean a wake up call for him, he could finally get out of this scam, and maybe even start to feel a little better about not looking at a number that’s only been going down.” Buttcoin users urged Izzycc to break up with her boyfriend – and she did. “It was for a number of reasons, but the NFT stuff was pretty big,” she told the Guardian.
“I just hated being around it all the time. I hated when he told my family about it. It was just a little embarrassing, I guess. She’s “much better now,” but still browsing Buttcoin: “People are funny, and I know too much about cryptocurrency to not at least browse the site casually at this point.”
Buttcoin sometimes deals with heavier tragedies. In August, a user described a close friend who got into crypto before killing himself. “I was secretly laughing at him,” the user wrote, “until I recently heard the bad news…and it’s hard to feel sorry for crypto brethren, but now that I’m there, I do.” “I’m tearing up hearing this,” wrote one user. Another user observed, “This sub makes a lot of jokes that I consider comic relief, but everything about it sucks, really.”
This is the tension that runs through Buttcoin: beneath the memes lies real pain – and a frustration of watching helplessly as more and more people around you get hurt. “I think if the cult of crypto was just a bunch of dudes in the woods with a server farm and a maypole, there wouldn’t be any real call for Buttcoin to exist,” said Joe. “But he apparently intends to stay and become a big enough part of the world that I don’t have that option.”
Buttcoin is not so much a force of resistance as it is a coping mechanism, Joe said, and one that, for him at least, might even backfire.
“I’m pretty sure the algorithms have been sending me more crypto ads since I started posting regularly because they can’t tell the difference between ‘I’m reading how nonsense this is’ and “I’m reading about this as a sucker/potential customer. He is refreshing Buttcoin anyway, hoping that he will one day see the price go all the way to the bottom.