If you follow any blockchain folks on Twitter, your feed has likely been filled with economist Nouriel Roubini’s anti-crypto diatribes for the past 72 hours or so. “Dr. Doom,” who earned his super-nemesis name calling the 2008 financial meltdown, has long been a critic of blockchain, but he’s really kicked it up a notch in the past few days.
Part of his total Crypto Twitter domination has to do with pure numbers: He appears to have been glued to Twitter all weekend, commenting near-continuously about crypto’s “total Apocalypse and Meltdown.”
Since 2008, Roubini has made a career out of predicting future recessions most recently scheduling our next for 2020. He testified at Thursday’s blockchain Senate hearing, presenting a 30-page report with the proto-Victorian subtitle, “Crypto is the Mother of All Scams and (Now Busted) Bubbles While Blockchain Is The Most Over-Hyped Technology Ever, No Better than a Spreadsheet/Database.” His subsequent firehose spray of tweets has combined Trumpian insults (“a pack of rabid angry hungry desperate mean violent wolves”), factual claims (“actually the full system transaction cost of BTC is $65 dollars per transaction”) and self-aggrandizement (“While the median crypto barking dog on twitter has 0 followers I have a global platform”).
But his Twitter domination also has to do with engagement from the Cryptosphere, as the NYU professor has replied in earnest to users with names like Trolly McTrollface.
Crypto Twitter prides itself on transparency and loves nothing more than a flame war. (Remember ye ol’ BTC vs. BCH skirmishes of March 2018?) So it’s easy to see why his tactic of going after specific individuals like Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin and crypto commentator Kevin Pham has paid off.
That in turn, has launched its own debate among crypto folks about how to engage with Roubini’s ‘shitcoin’-peppered arguments. (Nourbini’s go-to phrases appear to be “crypto barking dog” and “shitcoin filled cesspools.”)
The crypto community is split: Should Roubini be ignored entirely? Should someone go through to his arguments line by line? Should Buterin debate him, as Roubini proposed? Over the weekend, Twitter users, like boxing fans rooting for a celebrity prizefight, devoted an impressive amount of energy to trying to arrange this Buterin vs. Roubini battle royale, with no resolution in sight. Roubini, who debated Joseph Lubin in May, seems to be relishing negative attention, saying that the dominant response from Crypto Twitter has been “nasty insults” from “angry white males who are totals [sic] life losers.”
Is Roubini right that crypto is is a house of cards? Or is he just enjoying the power of trolling like a pro wrestler who plays the heel? How long will his Twitter dominance last? Depends how long it takes for the next scandal to consume Crypto Twitter. At least the appetizer menu for the debate has been determined.