An obscure Twitter username, no location, an NFT profile picture, no tagged location, no identifiers at all. Just a crypto rhetoric being spewed, an entire identity formed around their blockchain obsession.
Who are they? Who knows. What are they? Anon crypto Twitter accounts.
Why Start an Anon Account?
I spoke with ChainlinkBull, an early adopter of Chainlink, who created his anon account in October 2018 to shill the project that he loved.
"My anon journey started after I got fired from a crypto institution. Before the end of my tenure, I wanted to be able to exclusively support Chainlink without them knowing. The institution didn't want to listen to my Chainlink thesis — the only people who would listen were folks on Crypto Twitter." ChainlinkBull told me, "having [an account] disassociated from your identity gives you a bit of a leg up — because all of a sudden, no one really cares where you're coming from, they just care about your content, and the narrative you're driving."
Before he'd joined Chainlink Twitter as an anon account, he had set up his own personal account tied to his IRL identity. However, no one cared. "He was just a college kid, why would anyone care what he has to say?" ChainlinkBull told me, talking in the third person.
Once he made the ChainlinkBull account, suddenly he was an illusive meme wizard who was pushing the smart contract and oracle narrative — Crypto Twitter finds it much easier to respect that figure, than a doxxed identity.
Branding Your Twitter
Of course, the name of your account becomes a huge part of branding. Some accounts tie their identity to an NFT (e.g. Punk6529), however, this means you can never sell this NFT without losing the rights to your identity.
ChainlinkBull doesn't have this issue — instead, his whole online identity is tied to the Chainlink project. This can prevent you from trying to branch out into other communities, restricting you to only the Chainlink maxis to be your avid followers.
"People just associate me with Chainlink. [Some people] may have grown to respect Chainlink but they don't necessarily respect a Chainlink focused account." He told me, "For a while, I would never talk about other projects that I was interested in because I didn't want the [Chainlink] community to jump on top of me."
Fortunately, as of late, he has managed to branch out to speak about NFTs and other projects but for a while, he felt boxed in to only speak about Chainlink.
Where Does the Online Identity End and IRL Begin?
Many anon accounts still include elements of their real-world personality in their online persona. ChainlinkBull is no different.
"For a while, the bull was my spirit animal. I was hard-charging, very intense, sort of loud, and [stubborn]. This went into my account, I wasn't so much making memes but more making a name with my words." He said, "I've always had like, a loud mouth and ability to sort of like clap at people — especially on subjects I'm very knowledgeable about. And, you know, I also like bulls."
Originally, I thought the 'bull' part of his name simply came from being bullish on Chainlink (which I'm sure also plays a role) but clearly, his name runs deeper than just that.
Freedom of Expression
Although his name may be tied to his IRL personality, there are elements of his personality that he may only show on his anon account.
"If I posted a very black pilled economic take on my personal Instagram, for instance, people wouldn't really like that very much. You can't share all of the things you post on Twitter with the people you see on a day-to-day basis in real life." He said, "Maybe they're very left-wing, and you're more right-wing so you want to obfuscate those things about yourself."
He sees this as a common reason why many people join the anon community (even outside the crypto space). Many people feel trapped by the current political climate — for example, potential employers will go through your social media accounts and flag any potentially inflammatory posts you've made online. An anon account prevents that.
"You can be very real on your anon Twitter account," he said. "You can say whatever you want."
ChainlinkBull sees himself as fairly apolitical but this is still an issue he considers.
Another way anon accounts may feel freer online is because it prevents their IRL peers from knowing that they're "getting rich".
"You might not even want your wife to know, you definitely don't want your boss or your co-workers to know. A lot of the time when people are making incredible amounts of wealth, they're planning on quitting their job. Or they have grand plans for what they want in life." ChainlinkBull said, "A lot of this has to do with, sort of, shedding a lot of the people you interact with in your IRL life."
That begs the question, who knows he's the Bull?
Who Knows Your Anon Account IRL?
This is different for every anon account but it's safe to assume the large majority of them keep their online identity hidden from most people in their real life.
ChainlinkBull says that 99% of people in his real life don't know that he has this anon account. The others know him primarily because he introduced them to Chainlink in 2018 and then, they put two and two together when they hear his voice in Twitter spaces. So, why is he so calm that no one will doxx him?
"I think it would just be a very rude thing to do. I kind of have a lot of faith in the universe," he said. "As you go legit in the crypto space, and you show up to more IRL meetups. And since you're actually building in the space, it becomes very difficult to stay anon."
He really has no reason to hide, he's not trying to evade authorities or do anything illegal. He just wants anonymity from his IRL identity. In fact, if his real identity was leaked nothing would change for the Bull.
"Fundamentally, nothing would change. I would still be building what I'm building." He told me, "the only thing you would change is if someone from my real life wanted to find out what I actually do and if there was some article about it."
Currently, those who don't know what he does just thinks he's that typical crypto bro that will talk your ear off at a party if you let him. Surprisingly, even his significant other doesn't know about his anon account. He thinks that she just probably wouldn't care.
Abandoning Your IRL Identity
The longer you grow your anon account, the longer your IRL identity starts to be neglected. ChainlinkBull has been under this pseudonym since he created the account and has been building in the blockchain space under it.
"My actual person has not had any professional development in years but ChainlinkBull has all these connections — he's a builder and all these things. The other guy? No one gives a damn, he basically doesn't even exist." He said, "That's by design. I'm all in on this."
This leads to anon accounts living two lives — sort of like Hannah Montana. His real-life personality is just some dude who likes crypto. While his online identity has a glowing reputation that opens doors for him.
We've been told our whole lives not to pick favorites but it's hard. I'm sure all parents have a favorite child, and all bosses have a favorite employee. But who does ChainlinkBull identify closer with? His online or IRL identity?
"I think at times, I feel closer to the ChainlinkBull identity. I have hundreds of friends in real-life and a ton of friends on the internet, as well. But sometimes you feel a lot closer to your internet friends. Other times, I feel closer to my real-life friends." He told me, "The ebbs and flows of crypto space are very deep. We're all kind of all in this together, a lot of people on the outside aren't really going through that. The [times spent on the crypto] battlefield, those memories are shared like with Crypto Twitter. Those memories aren't being forged with people in real life."
This makes sense right? Extreme situations that are happy, sad, tense, or exciting are what bring people together. Think of your closest friends, the chances are they're so close to you because of the extreme shared experiences you've gone through. It could be years of education, a traumatic event, or competing in a sport together.
Ironically, all three of these examples are experiences crypto bros will go through. Years of educating each other on the blockchain, the trauma of losing 90% of your net worth, or the competition of building the next big project.
Of course, ChainlinkBull has real-life friends but they just bond over different things, things that Crypto Twitter doesn't need to know about. And that illustrates the philosophy of being an anon Twitter account. Their IRL and online identity may be different but they are still two sides of the same coin.
Check out writer Ryan S. Gladwin's website, follow him on Twitter, and of course, subscribe to the weekly Hedgehog newsletter!