Author: Chris Williams, Jacob Oliver, Timothy Craig, Tom Carreras
Although it was a difficult year for crypto, a crop of legendary memes helped the community endure the brutal market downturn.
- Despite the bear market, it was another big year for memes in crypto.
- Some of the most enduring memes of the year were born out of the biggest catastrophes in the space.
- Crypto Twitter served as an entertaining hub for memes to go viral within the community.
It turns out that crypto bear markets provide fertile ground for memes to flourish.
The Crypto Memes of the Year
2022 has been a brutal year. It started on a downward trend as markets corrected from their astronomical 2021 highs. That was no big deal; it was to be expected that such a surge as we saw last autumn would cool off sooner or later.
But it was only the beginning; soon, risky bets made at the height of mass euphoric madness started to fall in on themselves. One failure led to another, and then another, and then another. If one were to compile an in memoriam segment on the companies and projects that folded in 2022, it would run until the height of the next bull market and then some.
But those of us who’ve been here a while know that engaging with crypto and blockchain ecosystems—while fun, thought-provoking, and potentially very rewarding in any number of ways—is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to have long-term confidence and immense patience to be successful, and in the meantime, you’ve got to be able to laugh.
The intensity of 2022’s bearishness was arguably matched only by the choiceness of its memes. Despite all the industry’s sorrows—indeed, perhaps because of them—Crypto Twitter came through to give us the laughs we all so desperately needed. Here are 10 of our favorites of 2022.
“Deploying more capital – steady lads” (Do Kwon)
“Deploying more capital – steady lads”
Have there ever been a less convincing five words uttered on Crypto Twitter? When Do Kwon posted this message in a historic tweet on May 9, the crypto space was only just entering one of its most disastrous weeks ever. Terra, the stablecoin-based blockchain Kwon had spent the previous few months hyping to a loyal army of followers known as “the Lunatics,” was in the midst of a bank run that would wipe out life savings and ruin some of the biggest players in the industry. UST had already lost its peg to the dollar, and LUNA had suffered a steep drop to $50 as investors rushed for the exit. By the end of the week, UST was worth less than a dime and LUNA was virtually worthless.
When you’re facing a bank run, the worst thing you can do is let everyone know you’re facing a bank run (that’s why we saw other bad actors like Alex Mashinsky, Caroline Ellison, and Sam Bankman-Fried echo Kwon’s message as their respective worlds started to implode later in the year). Kwon said that he was “deploying more capital” because he wanted to convince the Lunatics that things would be OK, but to anyone paying close attention, it was obvious the game was up. Kwon didn’t say much during Terra’s disaster week, but he followed up a couple of days later with a last-ditch attempt to keep the community onside: “Getting close … stay strong, lunatics”
Kwon soon went silent and conceded that UST had failed in a tweet storm that looked like it had been written by a lawyer, but his legendary “steady lads” line immediately won a place in crypto folklore. It became crypto’s go-to meme for when shit was well and truly hitting the fan, widely circulated across the community as other big dominoes started to fall in Terra’s wake.
In a way, Kwon’s most famous tweet is also his most quintessential. It’s loaded with Kwon’s hallmark arrogance, as if capital was something that flowed like water at Terraform Labs HQ (and to be fair, Kwon’s convincing frontman act meant that for a while it did). It’s as deceptive as his long list of bullish tweets that helped LUNA soar. And most importantly of all, it shows that Kwon couldn’t resist another 15 minutes of Internet fame even as he knew he was facing the biggest crisis of his life.
Now that Terra is dead and giants like 3AC, Celsius, and FTX have fallen, crypto sentiment is the worst it’s been in years. But steady lads—even if winter continues, it’s going to be hard for anything to top Terra’s spectacular death spiral. Chris Williams
“We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out” (Su Zhu)
2022 was like watching a fire spread throughout a city—some structures may not yet be ablaze, but it’s not hard to spot which ones will be next. UST’s collapse lit the match in May, and by that summer, several corporate entities that had bet on Terra were starting to fold. We knew there was real trouble when Celsius paused withdrawals on June 12.
In the following days, rumors that Three Arrows Capital could be next to go under raged on Crypto Twitter. Until then, 3AC had been one of crypto’s most revered funds, so the suggestions of a blowup seemed inconceivable. 3AC co-founder Su Zhu eventually surfaced on Twitter with a soothing, if vague, statement on the matter that is now the stuff of legend: “We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out”
Then he and Davies vanished like a breath in the wind.
Over the following weeks, 3AC filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy, defaulted on a series of loans and obligations over $3.5 billion, locked up the office, and stopped answering the phone. Lawyers for the creditors and liquidators attested in court documents that neither Zhu nor Davies had responded to any attempts at communication. On a Zoom call with creditors, Zhu and Davies made an appearance, but “their video was turned off and they were on mute at all times with neither of them speaking despite questions being posed to them directly,” per a court filing.
In a space that likes to play with language and context, Zhu’s tweet here likely goes down as one of his most infamous. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “the process of communicating with relevant parties and [being] fully committed to working this out” become Internet slang for “taking the money and running away.” Jacob Oliver
“First off: we did indeed buy all the tokens.” (Sam Trabucco)
This unassuming phrase was first posted in a March 22 tweet from then-Alameda Research co-CEO Sam Trabucco. The collapsed hedge fund used what was likely FTX customers’ cash to buy out the entire public offering of Stargate Finance’s STG token.
In the lead-up to the token offering, Stargate Finance had received attention due to its innovative solution to bridging tokens between Layer 1 networks. The market had hopes that Stargate would be big in the future, so investors were lining up around the block to get in on the sale.
But when on-chain data revealed a single whale had swept the entire token supply, DeFi enthusiasts were understandably rattled. Before Trabucco posted his meme-worthy tweet, many predicted Alameda was involved due to the fund’s track record of buying up tokens from promising projects, capitalizing on the hype, and then dumping them into oblivion while hedging through perpetual futures contracts on FTX.
Trabucco’s jovial admission to monopolizing one of the few good DeFi projects to launch this year felt like a kick in the face to the crypto community. As has become customary, those on Crypto Twitter molded their misfortune into something to sardonically mock Alameda and other bad apples. You’ll see Trabucco’s post echoing through Twitter threads as a cynical way to criticize nefarious actors who try to play off their exploitation of the crypto space as virtuous. Tim Craig
“Yeah but your size is not size” (Do Kwon)
Terra’s native token, LUNA, showed surprising strength at the onset of the bear market, thanks partly due to the popularity of Terra’s stablecoin, UST, and the 20% yield offered on Anchor Protocol. However, many astute crypto observers pointed out that the LUNA rally was unsustainable due to UST’s algorithmic design. One of these critics was Algod, a trader known for managing a multi-million dollar portfolio, who stated on March 9 that he’d short LUNA “with size” if the token ever broke its all-time high again. His tweet prompted a legendary comeback from Terra’s controversial frontman Do Kwon, who commented: “Yeah but your size is not size” before immediately adding “$10 short incoming, everyone take cover.”
Although Algod was eventually proved right (he even won a million dollar bet against Kwon about LUNA’s price performance), Kwon’s brutal response is now etched forever in Crypto Twitter lore and is regularly quoted and alluded to. Of all of Kwon’s bombastic tweets, this is the one that best captures his arrogant persona in the lead-up to the Terra ecosystem’s collapse. Though, to be perfectly honest, he hasn’t changed all that much since. Tom Carreras
“I’ll buy everything you have, right now, at $3.” (CoinMamba)
On January 9, 2021, pseudonymous crypto trader CoinMamba and then FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried went viral on Crypto Twitter after arguing about the fair price of Solana’s SOL token, which was trading for roughly $3.20 at the time. CoinMamba insisted SOL was overvalued, Bankman-Fried disagreed, and they tried to set up a bet about its market direction—but CoinMamba was nitpicky about the parameters of the bet, so in the end, Bankman-Fried lost patience and ended the conversation with an outrageous tweet: “I’ll buy as much SOL has you have, right now, at $3. Sell me all you want. Then go fuck off.”
To make things worse for CoinMamba, SOL proceeded to rally and ended up reaching an all-time high of $259 in November 2021. Every time the coin reached a new high, swarms of crypto natives would tag CoinMamba and mock him for fumbling on such a big opportunity.
2022 turned out very differently for both Solana and its main cheerleader, Sam Bankman-Fried. SOL currently trades at about $13.48, down almost 95% from its peak, while Bankman-Fried has become crypto’s top villain after the collapse of his FTX exchange.
After FTX imploded, Bloomberg downgraded its estimation of Bankman-Fried’s wealth from $16 billion to a mere $3. CoinMamba seized the opportunity and, 22 months after their initial conversation, shot back at his nemesis: “I’ll buy everything you have, right now, at $3. Sell me all you want. Then go fuck off.” Vengeance is indeed a dish best served cold. Tom Carreras
The Salute Emoji
Whether you’ve lost money, can’t access your funds, or gotten hit by one of the countless CeFi rug pulls this year, giving your fellow bear market dwellers a nod with the salute emoji has become a staple of Crypto Twitter culture.
The salute emoji acknowledges to others that we’re all in this together and to hang in there even if the circumstances appear dire. It does the rounds in responses to everything from DeFi exploits and wallet hacks to billion-dollar bankruptcies and, most recently, rampant financial fraud.
The origin of the salute emoji trend is unclear, but what it signifies is easily understood, aiding its rise as one of the space’s most viral memes. 2022 has been a dark year for the crypto space, but the comradery expressed through memes like the salute emoji has helped keep people sane and sometimes even find humor in the chaos. Beyond simply posting the emoji, other iterations of the meme include a photoshopped picture of disgraced Terra co-founder Do Kwon saluting. The meme is equal parts a jab at Kwon as it is a show of respect to those who lost money from his irresponsible stablecoin scheme.
Like bull market memes such as WAGMI (“we’re all going to make it”), which have died a quick death under the current bearish conditions, the salute emoji will likely see less use if and when the crypto market starts to recover. But for those who live to see the other side of the downtrend, it will probably always hold a special place in their minds. Tim Craig
Ledger’s “Like I’m Playin’ Fortnite” Dance Challenge
One of our most widely praised entries is Ledger’s iconic dance challenge video. In March, the UpOnlyTV co-host was pressured by his fellow podcaster Cobie to reproduce a viral TikTok video of a teenager confidently breaking it down for the “Like I’m Playin Fortnite Dance Challenge” in a school hallway. Once Cobie’s tweet topped the required 10,000 likes, Ledger agreed to the challenge. He wore an FTX t-shirt for the occasion and called upon Sam Bankman-Fried to donate $200,000 to crypto advocacy group Coin Center. While Bankman-Fried rarely hesitated to spend other people’s money this year, he never replied. Ledger completed the challenge anyway and posted the video on UpOnly’s official Twitter account “for the culture.”
As expected, the video was absolutely hilarious, but the crypto community reacted in surprise and delight upon seeing how solid Ledger’s performance turned out to be. Numerous memes immediately sprouted from it, with a particularly inspired community member even photoshopping Ledger’s moves onto another legendary meme, Bilal Göregen performing Ievan Polkka, and then releasing the template on a green screen for anyone to use. Ledger’s dance still pops up on the timeline every once in a while, usually as part of a new joke—in that sense, it’s not a stretch to say it has become one of crypto’s greatest memes. Tom Carreras
Bitboy Crypto’s Ryan Sean Adams Glasses Rant
Ben Armstrong, an influencer and marketer better known as Bitboy Crypto, is the world’s biggest crypto YouTuber. He’s built a loyal following of wet-behind-the-ears retail investors over the past few years, but to crypto’s most active participants, he’s widely seen as a joke figure. That’s because he built his brand (and bank balance) by endorsing illiquid low-cap tokens to his unbeknowning followers, taking hefty payments and then dumping the tokens he received on his own fans.
So it’s not unusual to see respected industry figures like Bankless co-host Ryan Sean Adams dunking on him on Crypto Twitter. In this instance, Adams put out a tweet to stress to lawmakers that Armstrong “doesn’t represent us” during a heated exchange between Armstrong and Sam Bankman-Fried. Never one to miss out on an opportunity for engagement, Armstrong picked up on the dig on his show a few hours later. He exploded into a deranged rant of epic proportions, taking shots at Bankman-Fried, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, “the suits,” and even Adams’ glasses. Screaming into the microphone, he said:
“I don’t represent the people—THE FUCK I DON’T. I’M THE ONE WHO DOES. IT’S ME. I’M THE ONE OUT HERE PUTTING THE WORK IN BEHIND THE SCENES TRYING TO SAVE CRYPTO WHILE THESE DEVILS—SAM BANKMAN-FRIED, BRIAN ARMSTRONG—THEY’RE TRYING TO PERMANENTLY RUIN IT. THIS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY FOR ME. I HOPE YOU GUYS UNDERSTAND THIS.”
Armstrong went on to suggest that Adams, “with his frickin’ glasses on,” was deceiving the crypto community by trying to divert attention away from him to “the suits” with money. “The suits have taken over crypto. And I won’t stand for it,” he said in a later tweet.
Adams served spice back at Armstrong in his response, jesting that the Alex Jones of crypto had attacked his glasses whilst on a “coke fueled tirade” (Armstrong has been known as the crypto equivalent of the alt-right commentator for a while now).
To be fair to Armstrong, he later apologized to Adams on a Bankless podcast, and he also got the last laugh over Bankman-Fried after FTX collapsed. But the Internet never forgets, so his insane rambling about Adams’ eyewear will likely be remembered forever as one of the best memes of crypto winter 2022. Chris Williams
“Ethereum On Steroids” (Vitalik Buterin)
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has become more outspoken on Crypto Twitter in recent years, but he still catches the crypto community by surprise with his witty quips. That’s what happened on June 27, when he replied to an innocuous question about the EOS blockchain from the Ethereum Foundation’s Josh Stark.
Buterin’s satirical throwback to an early EOS bull post was an instant hit. While most onlookers understood the humor and enjoyed the joke, there were some who obviously didn’t get it. “V, you OK?,” replied Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson, setting off a battle between EOS shills and Cardano fans in the replies.
EOS was one of the first in a long line of so-called “Ethereum Killers” to challenge the second-biggest blockchain for the top spot. But after a record-breaking $4 billion initial coin offering in 2017, EOS failed to deliver on many of its initial promises. Due to several setbacks and a schism between the non-profit EOS Foundation and ICO issuer Block.one, the network has underperformed and underdelivered compared to its competitors—especially Ethereum. Tim Craig
Randi Zuckerberg’s WAGMI Song
Mark Zuckerberg has very few fans in crypto, but the Meta owner’s sister Randi Zuckerberg became even more hated than him in the space when she dropped “WAGMI.” Intended to serve as “a rallying cry for the women of Web3,” the song packs as many crypto colloquialisms and expressions into two minutes as part of Zuckerberg’s attempt to connect with the space. But she misses the mark, and it’s one of the biggest crypto travesties we’ve ever seen.
In one fell swoop, Zuckerberg managed to ruin an impressive number of iconic memes (including GM, LFG, and HODL), sometimes destroying them forever (WAGMI seems to have disappeared from Crypto Twitter lingo ever since). In response, the crypto sphere united to denounce the video as the epitome of cringe. “Im in a bunker, and this just made my day worse,” wrote one Ukrainian community member.
Zuckerberg’s flop showed that despite its numerous defects, the crypto space is still young and dynamic enough to resist blatant appropriation attempts by non-natives, no matter how famous or well connected they may be. It also may have given us a clue as to why her younger brother is spending billions of dollars to build his own Metaverse to escape to—you’d do the same if your sister was screeching at you to “carpe your crypto diem.”