Have you ever collected something? Be it baseball cards, comics or coins from different countries? I used to collect movie tickets (when they still existed). Have you ever wondered why we collect?. Would you buy a LeBron James dunking video for $ 200,000 — that anyone can download legally for free?
It may sound crazy to you, but for people who buy NFT’s, it is not. Imagine selling a Tweet for thousands of dollars or even more, a piece of cardboard with a 5'7 dragon on it or $36,000 (please don’t kill me pokemon fans, I know what a Charizard is)
There’s a reason Pokemon card prices have skyrocketed since last year — 500% for anyone who’s watching!
No, I’m not delusional, all of these transactions have actually been made, and as you read this, dozens of similar purchases are being made around the world. Have these people lost their minds?
I do not know. I just know that I regret letting my mom throw away all my pokemon cards when I turned 16.
Let’s see a bit about the recent craze that has unleashed NFTs, Pokemon cards, and what goes on in the mind of someone who spends thousands of dollars on a GIF.
What are NFTs and why would someone buy one?
NFT stands for Non-Fungible Tokens. They are basically collectables in digital format, an image, video, GIF, audio, even a Tweet or a web page. In recent weeks we have seen these assets sell for insane amounts.
The CEO and founder of Twitter sold his first Tweet for $2.5 million. Singer Grimes sold her album art for $6 million.
Do buyers have unique and exclusive access to the NFTs? No, literally anyone can access them online. You can own that same NFT, simply copy + paste and voila, you have the exact same collectable that was sold for (insert obscene amount) the only difference is that the buyer will have something encoded within the metadata that states that they own the original — this meta-data, might I add cannot be seen unless you look into the source code- so the only real difference between the NFT and the copied/pasted GIF/video/song et al is this hidden data, wow!
So why would you buy NFT? Because it is like having an unalterable certificate of authenticity on the ownership of a digital asset. This is achieved with blockchain technology, the same that cryptocurrencies use.
Imagine owning a Banksy digital art that everyone can see for free, but only you have a property record on that NFT.
It’s like owning a guitar that Jimi Hendrix played with in concert, and you have a photo that proves it’s authentic. Only in the case of NFTs, everyone can play that guitar for free, even though they’ll know it’s yours!
Sorry, I’m just trying to make sense of it.
Ok, but what about Pokemon card prices?
In essence, it is the same. Different but the same. The same but different.
Pokemon cards have been around since the 90s, and although many don’t know it, Pokemon started out as a card game, then came the video games and finally the animated series.
Since the beginning of 2020, the sale of Pokemon boxes has grown significantly, especially at auctions. We will talk about insanely high prices again:
A few months ago, a box of Pokemon card packs sold for $360,000. And I personally watched a streamer buy an original 2001 first edition box for $20,000! Let that sink in for a moment.
This Pokemon card price craze has grown thanks to YouTubers, Streamers, and collectors — mainly Logan Paul, who cleverly made use of both the Pokemon and NFT craze by, get this, turning himself into a Pokemon card (see above image) and selling both the card and the NFT to the card separately — making in access of $5 million, in ONE day! *sobs*
This market behaves similar to the stock market, some cards appreciate, moon (skyrocket) their original price and people earn huge amounts of money for an item good that originally sold for a few dollars.
So if you used to buy Pokemon cards when you were young, don’t let your mom throw them away, she may be literally throwing hundreds of thousands in the trash.
The psychology behind collecting
For some, collecting is just a hobby, for others, it is an obsession that lasts a lifetime. Some psychologists suggest that we all actually collect something,(who’s my good little hoarder? You are, yes you are!) be it travel photos, books, and vinyl records. Not all of us do it consciously or spend fortunes like people who buy NFT, but at some level we all do.
Studies show that collecting has different effects on the brain, such as a sense of reward, reinforcement of pleasure, achievement, and order. The reason is different for each collector.
Obtaining a very exclusive or difficult to find item can give us a feeling of achievement. As a very complicated task that not everyone achieves, but I did: owning a shiny Pikachu card. I’m not kidding, those sell very well.
Collecting out of a sense of order, such as obsessive-compulsive tendencies, can also be assumed. If I have some cards from the Yankees players, why not have them all? What’s more, why not have cards of all the teams in the American League? Why not have the entire MLB? and that need to fill in spaces can lead a collector to spend their whole lives searching for new items.
It is basically a relationship of effort and reward. And the result is palpable. When you can display your large collection of anything. In the case of buyers of NFTs, it is the feeling of owning something unique.
There is only a first Tweet in the history of Twitter or an original GIF of the Nyan Cat and I am the true owner of that, plus no one. Even Jeff Bezos can’t own this.
However, some collector behaviour patterns can be signs of personality disorders, such as OCD. The unhealthy obsession with having more and more items can be a way of dealing with a bigger problem that is not seen, so it is important to watch the signs.
Now if you excuse me, I’ll keep looking in the trash for the Pokemon cards that my mom threw away.
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