Over the centuries, people fought over everything from food to land to ideology to find themselves in peace and cooperation later. They would return later to draw weapons. Large divisions between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity were later repeated with the Protestant-Catholic wars of the 17th century, until the parties finally found peace centuries after they began.
Fast forward 400 years, and it is clear that technology has done nothing to contain our tribal instincts. If anything, the rise of the blockchain has destructively enlarged these instincts. Tribalism prevents blockchain from maximizing its limitless potential, but the “your coin versus my coin” stance is paramount, even among industry leaders. At the same time, our ability to navigate troubled waters and weather the tide of mass adoption rests on our willingness to work together, despite our fundamental tribal tendencies.
Tribalism is deeply rooted
However, the subject goes deeper than the guiding economic and political principles. Many cryptocurrencies develop loyal followers and become tribesmen who have ambivalent, if not obviously hostile, attitudes towards other coins.
One can easily find barbs on Cryptoverse, on Twitter, or on Reddit where users are trolling other coins with mockery like “Shitcoin”. This toxic brand of tribalism is also affecting blockchain developers who may ditch superior technologies just because they belong to a different camp. Obviously, this has a detrimental effect on the progress of blockchain applications as a whole.
This tribalism could potentially scare off newbies and talented developers and hold back its growth and development. As such, this immature feud of superiority complexes that has led to toxic tribalism within the blockchain community must be ended for all parties who ultimately have the same ultimate goal of pushing blockchain into the mainstream.
A bigger, tastier, digital cake
Many of us remember Wendy’s hilarious nudges against our competitors and other users on Twitter over the past decade. However, we can hardly imagine the big guns openly labeling each other’s products as “s —” or shaping other blatant monikers of their products on Twitter in the way that crypto users have destroyed competing digital currencies.
But there is a good side and a way forward.
To begin with, the strong competition and intense passion for products show that there is initially a lively market. Almost every venture capital presentation includes a slide about the competitors. Even though blockchain projects can compete for users, developer mindshare and community, there is an overarching need for collaboration in expanding the reach of blockchain. Currently, only a fraction of the population is exposed to the blockchain space, and the association to fill the gaps for newcomers should take precedence over small internal competitions.
Corporations agree that competition is healthy and “may the best man win” and not “may the best man win and shoot at the competitor with slander or slander”. This understanding is exactly what the crypto and blockchain world would benefit from: healthy competition without today’s snobbery.
Indeed, many in the blockchain space are trying to turn the corner and find a new path. With interoperability nearing a reality, many developers are joining forces to work together on bridging chains. The results of such technological advancement are monumental and signify a tangible unity among developers to test the success of the underlying blockchain engine.
Networking chains on both a technical and an ideological level uses Metcalfe’s Law to drive growth for all. Metcalfe’s Law states that the value or utility of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes it has connected. The connection of chains and ecosystems accelerates Metcalfe’s Law at work exponentially. These kinds of healthy competitions are necessary to move the cause of decentralized funding – less protectionism, more fraternity. Polkadot and Cosmos are thriving decentralized communities and examples of what a mature collaboration within DeFi can achieve.
The blockchain dream may still have a long way to go before it blooms into the fertile ecosystem pioneers it dreamed of. It is true that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and the case couldn’t be more obvious in the world of blockchain. It’s time for developers and crypto enthusiasts to lay down their dukes and work together.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the sole rights of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Beni Hakak is the CEO and co-founder of LiquidApps. Previously, he was Director of Operations at Bancor and a strategic advisor at Ernst & Young. Beni had previously served in an elite technology unit in the Israel Defense Forces and graduated from Technion, Israel’s top technology institute, with a degree in industrial engineering and management. Beni discovered blockchain technology four years ago and has been creating, advising and working for companies in this field ever since.