Death threats, viral rap videos and a stream of frog-themed insults. That’s the state of my social media profiles after hosting a Twitter Space on May 8 about PEPE, the new token based on the “Pepe” meme.
Poignantly hosted during a monumental PEPE price crash, Cointelegraph set out in the May 8 Twitter Space to understand the token. Why had it surged so quickly? What separates PEPE from the thousands of other memecoins and dozens of other PEPE tokens? And what’s the duration of these token projects?
The backlash was “ribbiting.”
— OLLIESBLOG ⚡ (@olliesblog) May 9, 2023
Though we endeavored to talk about PEPE’s popularity, I ended up enduring rather grim — if predictable — personal outcomes.
I’ve been memed into myriad amphibian images, someone painted a Microsoft Paint Pepe portrait of me, I feature in a rap song, I’ve received over 100 written insults in my Twitter DMs, and I’ve been photoshopped into weird and wonderful frog poses.
On top of that, one of the speakers on the Twitter Space, Irina Heaver — a lawyer based in Dubai — has received personalized death threats. (She’s OK, by the way.)
So, what on earth is going on? How is a token that’s barely one month old generating such high levels of harassment, toxic behavior and diehard commitment?
Every frog has its day
The PEPE token hopped over a $1 billion market cap this week. The milestone meant that a meme token that is “completely useless” — according to the PEPE website — now exceeds the gross domestic product of some countries.
Kudos to PEPE. It has shown us that even the most unassuming of memes (with a somewhat checkered past) can transform into billion-dollar success stories. It’s an amphibious achievement that has presumably left the somewhat “traditional” cryptocurrencies green with envy.
As the latest ERC-20 token to amass a significant social media presence, PEPE proponents project a peaceful and “happy” community that protests against crypto venture capitalists.
The project’s Telegram group includes more than 43,000 members, a fraction of the more than 100,000 PEPE hodlers. The idea behind the group is to be “positive” and “happy,” and to “onboard new people into the [crypto] industry.”
Memes and fun internet culture aside, the PEPE community has also threatened to “end my career,” making death threats and creating viral EDM and rap videos of my panelists and me.
OK, i’m now curating my favourite insults from the $pepe community as there are just too many.
These are pic.twitter.com/UbuINDPZ5H
— Joe Nakamoto (@JoeNakamoto) May 8, 2023
Heaver, who joined the Twitter Space halfway through, has received death threats from the community. During the Space, Heaver, tongue in cheek, said, “I am legally predicting it will go to zero.”
The PEPE community did not see the irony in her prediction. They subsequently took to doxing info related to Heaver and her credentials, peppering her profile with hate mail and imagery.
Asked to comment for this column in the aftermath of the event, Heaver told Cointelegraph: “I refuse to comment since my family members are being threatened, and I refuse to engage in such antics.”
Bleak, but so what? This is crypto. Cointelegraph and Heaver were “fudding” PEPE. It serves us right for repeating that the meme token has no purpose except entertainment.
Plus, PEPE is not the first challenging crypto community — nor will it be the last. I’ve had my fair share of “fun” with the Cardano community, and I’ve had a few scrapes with the toxic Bitcoin (BTC) maximalists, a subset of the broader Bitcoin community. They employ acronyms such as GFY (go fuck yourself) and HFSP (have fun staying poor) at leisure.
According to a Reddit discussion, certain members of the SafeMoon crypto community are still the most toxic of all time. It plays out “like a soap opera” or a “warzone.” That token is down 99% from its all-time high.
Incidentally, the PEPE token crypto community was kicked out of the original Pepe Reddit community, right after the Reddit mods removed the subreddits’ question, “Do you know why they buy useless tokens?” Henceforth, the PEPE token crypto community is now separated from the Reddit Pepe community.
Could Pepe croak the Doge? Could it leapfrog the Shib?
Meme tokens are tokens and sometimes even cryptocurrencies derived from internet memes or culture, made for the sole purpose of profit and entertainment. Dogecoin (DOGE) was the first and most recognizable of the lot — created on a whim in 2013. Dogecoin was a fork of LuckyCoin (LKY), which in turn was a fork of Litecoin (LTC), which was itself forked from Bitcoin.
There have been thousands of meme tokens since Dogecoin. Shiba Inu (SHIB) at one point surpassed Dogecoin in market cap, a huge victory for the dog token that missed out on the first-woofer advantage.
PEPE believers reckon the dogs have had their day; PEPE now rules the swamp. If PEPE does a 5x, it will surpass Shiba; a 10x puts it ahead of Dogecoin. Could that happen?
Well, much like the other meme tokens that have done well, PEPE benefits from:
- Unit bias — i.e., you can buy thousands of PEPE tokens for a few dollars, so buyers feel “rich.”
- A fun but evidently toxic community backed by a popular internet-native meme.
- Influencer participation and encouragement (although the PEPE community asserts that influencers are not involved).
- A desire to fight back and stick it to the man! The overriding sentiment during the Twitter Space was that PEPE holders want to fight back against the VCs. It’s a shame GameStop was not able to trademark that narrative!
On the other hand, I’m still working to discern what elevates PEPE above other meme tokens. I asked that question a couple of times during the Twitter Space. The answers harked back to the “community” and “fighting back” against the VCs. Several speakers insisted that there was no VC involvement during the token launch, but we’ve seen this with every meme mania.
The Ethereum contract states: “Pepe is a community based memecoin with one mission: to make memecoins great again.”
However, in the PEPE Telegram group and on the website, the community regularly dunks on the dog tokens. I guess that, in a way, that’s a unique feature.
Personally, what I like about the token is that it doesn’t even pretend to be a cryptocurrency.
It has no blockchain, roadmap, utility or purpose — except entertainment. There are no plans to make it “useful” either. Technically, it’s not even a cryptocurrency, unlike DOGE, SHIB or the other wanna-be crypto dog tokens.
And this might not be such a bad thing for the “crypto” industry. A move away from weak promises of decentralized finance yield projects, algorithmic stablecoins or the tokenization of real-world items and a shift toward good old-fashioned gambling — but with a cause — bizarrely feels more honest.
It’s just that instead of buying casino chips, investors are buying into a toad-alitarian community hellbent on spamming social media in a desperate attempt to become king of the swamp.
Would Pepe be proud?
Joe Hall joined Cointelegraph as a reporter in 2021. He holds an MA in French and Spanish from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in economics from Sciences Po Lyon.
This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.