Since the dawn of the internet, anonymity has allowed users to experiment with who they are online, most notably when those online personas are different from how a person behaves and presents themselves in real life. Crypto, it turns out, has added another layer to that, and people have been finding ways to use crypto and blockchain tech to mess around with their identity.
One of these examples is something called a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which is best thought of as a mix between a company and a club. These DAOs pool money (in the form of crypto), time and skills toward a common goal, like buying a copy of the US constitution or buying land in Wyoming. Or, in the case of something called “simp DAO’s," that money and effort goes toward a female idol, usually an influencer or content creator. The term “simp" is internet slang to define super-fans, typically male fans who tend to idolize female influencers.
Sometimes these can involve creators just looking to interact with their fans in a more intimate setting. Other times, though, these can be cis men (or cisgender, meaning a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth) looking to bend their identity online. For Eric Wall, someone who had been an adviser on a DAO for Instagram influencer Irene Zhao, starting a simp DAO for his female persona came more as a joke than anything else.
“I got a group of followers that liked the girl version of me, and it gave them an outlet to be my fans in a more playful, romantic way," explained Wall.
See, people had been making photoshopped pictures of him as a woman for a while, and he decided to lean into the joke. Now Wall’s DAO wasn’t for his own profit – he set any extra money to go to charitable causes. But it raises the question of what gender really means online.
Part of the problem, too, is that for many people in the trans community, the online space was the first one where they could safely experiment with their gender identity. For other actors in the space, it’s coming from a much more cynical place, and gender-bending is intended purely to make a quick buck.
This whole idea raises a lot of big questions. And look, we don’t have the answers. But we can add it to the list of things we probably need to figure out before we make the global shift to crypto that enthusiasts swear is on the horizon.