NFTs: Just another cash grab?

By Lim Hong Wei (21J08)


What are NFTs?


Non-fungible token, or what we commonly refer to as “NFTs”, has taken 2021 by storm, becoming the hot topic of every conversation and trendy headlines. So, you are probably wondering, what exactly are NFTs?

NFTs are unique units of data employing technology that allows videos, images or even songs to become logged and authenticated on cryptocurrency blockchains, primarily Ethereum. NFTs act as a form of digital certification of authenticity for artists’ artworks, which can be purchased or sold for “Ethereum”, the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Despite the definition, all these big words that are used definitely added a few more question marks to this seemingly abstract concept of NFTs. To put it simply, it is basically a platform for artists to sell their artworks, for big brands to advertise themselves, and for everyday people like us to make a fortune.


This begs the question, are NFTs benefiting the arts scene or just another opportunity to strike it rich?


Behind the arts scene


Artists in the NFT loop can make ridiculous amounts of money while gaining much publicity for their artworks. Mike Winkelmann, or professionally known as Beeple, became a millionaire overnight when his artwork sold for 69.3 million.

However, not every artist is fond of NFTs, and their reason highly contradicts the idea behind NFTs. NFTs were intended to grant rightful ownership to an artwork, however as it is impossible to check if the seller is actually the original artist, many artists have found their work sold by others through NFTs. Devin Elle Kurtz, 25-year-old visual development artist found her old artwork on DeviantArt being sold on the NFT website without her knowledge. Juu_Honey, a German artist, has also expressed her concern for NFTs sellers plagiarizing original artworks, where there is essentially no verification on the authenticity of the artwork and seller.


Are some NFTs even art?


Not all NFTs have to be digital art, it can even be something as ridiculous as an expressionless selfie. Yes, such an idea turned Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, a 22-year-old student into a millionaire. He is really one to be envied, as his selfies selling for $3 once became $10,000 each in no time, all in which can be concluded as just pure luck. However, Ghozali’s confidence is admirable, as not many of us would be comfortable advertising our face to everyone on the internet, more so putting a price tag on it.

The case of Ghozali truly makes us question the legitimacy of NFTs, and it has also inspired many to join the community in the hunt for the 7 digit net worth.


Besides individuals, big brands have been advertising themselves in the disguise of NFTs. An interesting one would be McDonald’s, which turned their McRib burger into an NFT, in regards to it returning to their menu.

As observed, this NFT is essentially an image of Mcdonald’s McRib burger and has nothing special about it. In fact, this idea had backfired on McDonald’s, as the NFT contained a racial slur, inscribed directly on the Ethereum Blockchain, or what many of us know as “Digital footprints”. This had drawn plenty of negative attention to McDonald’s and brought about more questions regarding NFTs, as even a big company like McDonald’s could slip up like this in an attempt to advertise their products.


Conclusion


NFT is undeniably a great way for aspiring artists to make a living, to gain popularity and to explore digital art. Meanwhile, there are also NFTs that make those who are out of the loop believe that it is simply just a complicated scam.


Overall, NFTs have the best of both worlds, where it is versatile enough to benefit multiple interest groups, which makes it stand out so much. As easy as it may seem to become a millionaire overnight, not everyone can profit from NFTs. Cryptocurrency and NFTs still remain uncertain territory to many of us, so let’s stop daydreaming about that 7 digit net worth and work hard towards our realistic goals!


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