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3. Why do people buy NFTs? Three reasons I’m obsessed with NFTs

It’s highly unlikely that there's a personality more suited to NFTs than mine.

What’s my point?

I wouldn't have stopped reviewing tech products if I didn't passionately care about the future of NFTs. But I haven't done a great job of conveying why I'm so intrigued with them in my NFTs for Rookies guide.

So for this post, I'll answer: why should you care about any of this NFT stuff?

I can't speak for all NFT buyers, but NFTs take three of my most primal instincts and interests that I've had since I was a young kid and combine them into one:

  • Internet culture.
  • Collector since the age of three.
  • The joy of the flip.

Let’s dive deeper into each of the three aspects.

1. Born on the Internet

Whether I was listing stuff on eBay while in middle school, teaching myself HTML to update my MySpace profile page, or spending hours watching strange videos on eBaum's World, I’ve been addicted to the internet for a long time.

The internet has been my only source of income since middle school, but it's also an incredible resource for learning. Not to sound like your crazy uncle who takes everything he sees on the internet as an indisputable fact, but I've learned way more from a combination of YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit than I ever did in school.

The internet is also great for getting exposure to like-minded people who you wouldn't necessarily be able to find in your local community. Many of us have found a place where we fit in on the internet because no matter how niche our interests are, there are almost always thousands of people with identical interests.

Not everyone recognizes the beauty of the internet, but those of us who are ultra-plugged in, know that the internet has its own culture that differs from the physical world. Have you ever seen a really funny meme or witnessed a cool internet moment, but when you explain it to people who live mostly offline, they look at you like you have five heads? You have to provide so much context to the meme, that it's not even funny or relatable to them. At best you get a pity chuckle.

True digital ownership is the next evolution of the internet. Spending ten hours a day on the internet and enjoying its culture may make me a nerd, but there's a certain set of people, who usually skew younger, who find great comfort in the communities they're a part of.

Now with NFTs, we can take the unique and interesting culture that's being created and digitize it in token form and let it be freely tradable. We can collect and own our favorite memes that made us laugh. Or our favorite art pieces that only people online would understand. I'm having a blast trading NFTs with a small set of crypto enthusiasts, but I bet that crypto culture and broader internet culture merge eventually.

Communities are another area where NFTs are ripe for adoption. There are more than 130,000 subreddit communities and more than 300,000 YouTube channels with 100k (or more) subscribers. NFTs can and will be created around these communities and they’ll come in many different forms:

  • Basic access pass for a gated community.
  • Limited edition exclusive pass for top fans.
  • Free NFT with an unlimited supply to prove you’re a part of a community (no monetary implications).

Just look at people's Twitter bios to see tons of political, religious, and brand references. Or in my case, I have #bitcoin in my bio. Bios are just quick ways to show the communities that you're a part of. I think NFTs will eventually act similarly and be seen as social currency.

Group coordination is interesting too. With the power of crypto and NFTs, it's possible for a group of people who only know each other online to come together to accomplish a common goal. For example, let's say a group of people want to stop vandalization in a city and they've collectively put $1k into a shared wallet. Theoretically, everyone who holds a token from the group gets a vote on how the money is spent to accomplish the goal.

Some of this bottom-up management idealism will never work, but there's a ton of untapped potential with community coordination that'll be experimented with over the next ten years.

2. Collector in my blood

I've had the instinct to collect and organize things since I was three years old. My first love: collecting used bottles. For young Cam, there was nothing better than a cleaned-out apple juice bottle or a Hershey syrup bottle. I always appreciated a design that differed from the norm. I wish I was kidding, but I litteally carried around a bag of used bottles as a kid!

Fortunately, my interests evolved into more traditional collectibles like baseball cards when I got a bit older. Because only 50 cards fit on my card shelf, I was always striving to create the best set of cards for my shelf by ripping packs, buying new cards online, and trading with friends. Baseball cards were never thought of as an investment—they were just fun to organize on my shelf.

I have a theory that the instinct to collect is built into many humans and that most have least one thing that they collect, even if it's not seen as a traditional collectible. (Related: Before jumping down the NFT rabbit hole, I was working on a side project for people to take pictures of their favorite items (or collections) to display to the world. In my case, on my profile, I show off my tech gear as my latest thing to collect.)

People collect things just for pure ownership reasons without any financial motivation. Whether it's my gramp collecting coins, my mom proudly displaying all of her favorite books on her bookcase, or my friend's collection of baseball gloves, most people have a 'thing'.

NFTs are just another item to add to the list. And because they’re such a broad category, eventually there should be something interesting for everyone to collect.

NFT projects like NBA Top Shot and NFL All Day bring me back to my days of organizing my baseball card shelf. Instead of upgrading my shelf, I’m tweaking my Top Shot wallet to be the best it can be. Plus, once a week, I get the opportunity to virtually open a pack of moments with the hopes of landing one of my favorite players. Physical sports cards are an easy parallel to see with NFTs.

But I also own some cool art NFTs that I like the looks of and I'm proud to support the artist's work.

Many outside the crypto and NFT world think we're buying NFTs and crypto for the purpose of exchanging them for dollars. For many of us in the crypto community, this isn't the case. If we trade our NFTs for dollars, it's only to buy more NFTs. I've got at least 10 or so NFTs that I wouldn't sell under any circumstances. I don't care about their value, I just want to own them because I like them.

3. Flipping things

Back in first grade, I made myself a felt pouch with my name on it to store my pencils. It wasn’t long before a few classmates took notice and wanted a pencil pouch. I saw an opportunity because I knew I could sell each classmate a personalized pouch with their name on it for $2 and acquire the materials for half that price.

A few years later, I found eBay and was always looking for things around the house or other places that I could flip for more money.

You might think that I’m just entrepreneurial or that I love money. That’s true to some extent, but there’s more to it than that: the joy of the flip.

It’s fulfilling to see value in something that others don't, then be rewarded for finding that value before others do. It's probably why I love playing fantasy sports or why my dream job as a child was to be the Red Sox General Manager.

Crypto and NFTs are 24/7 markets. They’re the freest of all markets. And there's no better way to test your skills of finding value where no one else sees it than the free market.

Did you believe in an idea before anyone else? Or maybe you have a life experience that gives you a unique insight that no one else has. Whatever your edge is, the market will reward you for it monetarily when you're right. The market is the ultimate scoreboard.

That's not to say flipping NFTs is easy. Most people will likely lose money trying to flip. It’s not something that should be done with money you can’t afford to lose. It takes a lot of time and knowledge to find where you have an edge, but if you get into the weeds, you’ve got a shot. And NFTs can be a great hobby.

Wrap up

NFTs will never be for everyone, especially if you didn't grow up with the internet. One of the main reasons why NFTs could potentially fail is that people might not want all aspects of their lives financialized. But NFTs don't need to be seen as purely financial instruments to be useful or appealing.

It's likely many people who are competitive and enjoy flipping have already found their home in NFTs because crypto is like a magnet to us. But eventually, NFTs will move out of their early adopter phase and they'll become attractive to all hardcore citizens of the internet.

Due to the broadness of the NFT category, it's likely that people who like to collect things in the physical world, even if it's not a traditional collectible, will find their "thing" in the NFT world.

Next: 4. Where to Buy NFTs: The Differences Between Marketplaces