Squid Game: Recent Events & Fundamental Theories

Influencers, Rugpulls, Mimetic Theory and More

Parker Jay-Pachirat
November 01, 2021

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Hi everyone, Parker here. 

A few quick thoughts on recent events and fundamental theories before I go pick up my pass for NFT NYC. If you’re going to be there, hit my line. In the meantime, we have to talk about SQUID.

Squid Game

It almost seems natural that Squid Game, Netflix’s “biggest ever” series at launch, had its own cryptocurrency. And it almost did…

$SQUID, which was trading at about 1 cent on Tuesday, had jumped over 2,000% in the past few days to a peak price of $2,861 (CoinMarketCap). Many of the buyers were gamers excited to play an online version of the game set to start in November. BBC, Business Insider, Fortune, Yahoo, and CNBC were eager to cover the phenomena, enthusiastically reporting headlines on the new Squid Game cryptocurrency that soared 83,000% in just a matter of days. When the $SQUID coin launched last week, it was complemented by a website with spelling errors, a closed Telegram channel, and a Twitter account that disabled replies. What else? Perhaps the biggest red flag- no one who purchased $SQUID could sell.

Then, today around 5:40 am ET, the price of $SQUID plummeted to zero in a classic rug pull

Not New

This isn't the first time a prevalent media figure has facilitated mimetic hype for a crypto scam with clear red flags. Earlier this month, $MANDO, a crypto coin named after Disney’s show Mandalorian, was virally promoted by Matt Lorion, a 17-year-old TikTok influencer famous for providing insight on various cryptocurrencies. The red flags in this case: 

  • The MandoToken.com site wasn’t online long enough to be indexed by Google. 
  • An anonymous “white paper” was released with unverifiable claims on how the token had been tested and verified. 
  • Users on 4Chan wondered whether it was a scam. 

They were right, and an apology TikTok ensued. 

Roberts’ from Decrypt wrote a great piece (on Saturday) addressing the rise of $SHIB, up 165% the past week (at the time of his writing), and $FLOKI, up 298% the past week (at the time of his writing). Though Shiba Inu (a spin-off of Doge) and Floki Inu (a spin-off of Shiba Inu, a homage to Elon’s dog) can’t be compared to rug-pull scams, it’s fair to say they’re established shitcoins. The dogs are woofing. Up only. What gives? 

It’s all mimetic theory, all the way down.

A Business Insider headline from this week leads with “Buy Floki”. Mark Cuban advocates for $DOGE because his NBA team takes it as payment. Icon and legend Matt Levine called Dogecoin “funny”. And clearly, whether a rug pull scam or woof coin soaring, we shouldn’t underestimate the influence any media influencer or outlet plays in the transference of mimesis.

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(Meme credit to me, Parker Jay-Pachirat)

I’m not here to say that media outlets shouldn’t report on the stats of crypto projects, even if they’re a scam and we just don’t know it yet. I’m not here to say that media outlets or TikTok teenagers intentionally lured people into a rugpull. (That 17-year-old lost $10K himself, and got in big trouble with his PR and legal team). I’m also cool with people investing in woof coins and reporting on them. LFG. 

But I think there are a few important lessons here:

  1. We can only expect the line between media personnel, outlets, and influencers to continue blurring. Are you aware of the rise of fictional influencers? Worth checking out. 
  2. Mimetic theory makes the world go round. It also makes people kind of irrational (but hopefully we already know this from Girard). While mimetic theory is prevalent everywhere- literally, everywhere- I’d argue these hype cycles are particularly accelerated in the crypto world because the community is acutely perceptive and intact. The flywheel between the state of crypto and its various projects (and scams), “media” outlets and influencers, and “normal” people is one that deserves further exploration, especially given the ways in which it’s recently manifested. Given that the intersection of media and mimetic theory seems to lead non-crypto-natives to extremely impulsive and uneducated decisions, this relationship may be addressed somewhat warily for now, but probably deserves a little more attention. More on this later. 
  3. A plethora of traditional (or ‘trad’ in crypto speak) media outlets report shiny numbers on new coin ≠ invest. 
  4. A plethora of trad media outlets report shiny numbers on new coin = DYOR (do your own research), always.

Alright, I have to run, but I'm looking forward to fleshing these ideas out further when I have a little more time. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to DM me on Twitter, or email me at [email protected]

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