Blockchain Burnout: Ways To Deal With A Crypto-Induced Dud
Blockchain Burnout: Ways To Deal With A Crypto-Induced Dud

While technologies continue to evolve and crypto still promises an exciting future, it comes with the baggage of an exhausting past and present

My first cryptocurrency investment (if we can call it that) was seven years ago, as an old friend and I put together our meagre savings in the hopes of riding an exciting new tech wave that we barely understood. At the time, cryptocurrency was certainly popular, but nowhere near as inescapable as it is today, with the ashes of dead NFT projects and dozens of blockchain startups piled up alongside crypto’s 14-year-long journey — sad reminders of the giddy optimism that the tech world held before the pandemic struck, especially with younger, bright-eyed early adopters. 


I was one of the many who cashed their chips out in 2021, having been an investor, crypto writer and general tech enthusiast for years. At the time, I thought that the looming threat of a crash was why I stepped away from the blockchain world (good job on my part). Today, things seem a bit more complex when surveying the aftermath. Blockchain, after all, is an exponentially complicated technology that continues to evolve year-on-year — and if I started feeling overwhelmed during the pandemic, what did actual crypto entrepreneurs and developers feel?  


For 25-year-old Shlok Gupta, reality set in by the time it was late 2022, when the marketing and operations lead ended a long streak of work for Devfolio, a SaaS platform for hackathons. “We essentially put developers in a space for two days, or should I say 48 hours — they basically don’t sleep. All they do is eat and build something on the blockchain — usually dApps (decentralised apps) and use-case scenarios. We’ve also held the biggest Ethereum hackathon in the world — picking 2,000 out of 25,000 developers for two days with 100 thousand dollars at stake.” 



From upskilling campaigns to equity in the form of free grants, Gupta’s work had him constantly interacting with some of the most competitive and hardworking developers in the country, usually young men and women. “We wanted to vet and fund dApp-makers with good projects — money shouldn’t be a barrier to innovation, right?” Eventually, however, the hustle caught up with Gupta, who decided to step back from the world of crypto on a two-month sabbatical in Europe. “I like to think of life as a video game,” he says. “When you play, you earn ‘skill points’. I was putting all my points towards one skill, which was work, work, work… only upgrading, until I realised everything else was feeling empty. I now want to use my ‘points’ more holistically and grow as a person — maybe it’s the burnout talking, but the travel really helped me.” 


Despite the well-earned break, two months is a long time in the world of crypto. It took just two months, for instance, for Bitcoin to drop from its peak value of around $67,566 to $41,878 in 2021 — the infamous crash that took place when major crypto exchange FTX declared bankruptcy. The impact was severe on all fronts, as trading value dropped by 46% YoY in the world’s biggest exchanges, over $2 trillion went up in smoke, and governments used the plummeting value of crypto to justify restrictive regulatory frameworks. Several investors (me included) took off their rose-tinted glasses, never to return — a hit that the industry is yet to recover from. 


Delhi-London-based Parv Prabhakar has a similarly informed perspective on things, but isn’t as deterred as I was. The 25-year-old had been a trader, researcher and consultant since 2016, before founding his own real estate NFT marketplace, Estate Protocol, in 2021. To him, the ‘hustle’ involved in the crypto world is an almost systematic feature of the broader ecosystem within which he works — one built upon the principles of open-source blockchain development. 


“A lot of crypto projects involve open-source code, which allows [developers] to quickly build on top of existing technologies,” Prabhakar explains. “In traditional finance, I would’ve to build everything from scratch, get up to what you’ve built first, and then try and improve it a little bit. If the code is open source, I can just take it from you and add my feature, and that would take me like what, one day a week?” 



The result, he claims, is that crypto naturally evolves faster than most other technologies. For a full-time entrepreneur, this may necessitate days of crunching numbers, following trends, and so on for up to sixteen hours at a go. “The average person does not have the time to actively be this involved,” he adds, noting that early-stage projects may be a bad bet for casual investors, who he suggests should turn to established projects such as Ethereum or even diversify their asset classes into familiar investments, such as real estate, which his own company facilitates. 


Despite the grind, Prabhakar retains a certain curiosity and hunger for the game, that he feels, keeps burnout at bay. “I started with crypto long before it became work,” he states, unemotionally. “It was just interesting. And I was curious about it, and it took a lot of time before it became something that I ‘had’ to do. It’s really something I would be doing, even if it wasn’t working; even if it didn’t give me any money. While I may have not experienced real burnouts, I’ve certainly seen a lot of people do so — it’s pretty common in the industry,” he shares. “It’s still finance, and the number is jumping up and down every day. It’s connected to your emotional state, and if a large percentage of your net worth is invested, it can be stressful to keep up.” 


Inadvertently, Prabhakar touches upon Gupta’s case, explaining that traveling, taking a break, and then, catching up later is a common way to deal with crypto-related burnout. “Still, it’s so competitive,” he sighs. “Its worldwide. It goes on 24/7 — traditional markets shut on the weekend and during off-hours, but crypto keeps on running. You have to be on it all the time to, to be able to stay on top of the game.” 

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