Arts and Culture

What is DOGE Coin, and Why the Hell Should I Care?

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You see the word DOGE and immediately think, how the hell do I say that? Is it like DOG-EEE with the hard G or DOH-GE with a little Homer Simpson and the soft G? You see the word DOG in there yet, that E changes things. That hanging vowel disrupts the paradigm of how you think, speak, and read but, why? 

That’s one of many secrets behind the joke-crypto coin turned $6.5 billion market cap (the market value of a publicly-traded company’s outstanding shares) of Dogecoin, one that most haven’t been able to answer since its inception in 2013 when it began trading around $0.000232. Today, March 12th, 2021, the price hovers around $.055, a 1,690.45.% increase within the past three months. To put Dogecoin’s rise in simpler terms, if you had put in $1000 on January 3rd, 2021 at $.0098, you would be sitting on around a six-thousand dollar gain. For those that started buying and mining Dogecoin since the beginning, even more so. One interesting devotee of the Dogecoin, @MadDogeCoins, promised to buy $10,000,000 worth of Dogecoin in the next few weeks, and he is just the tip of the unique coins iceberg.

I didn’t know what to make of the universe of Doge on Twitter when I first came across the unique coin maybe six months ago. I’ve always been interested in crypto but not really because of Dogecoin’s price point (.003 back in the day) and history. I was also too poor to invest in something so volatile. On a surface level, the design of Dogecoin looked like something a small child would mistakenly make amidst shoving Cheetohs in their mouth and giggling at their farts. The memes themselves are usually photos of a Shiba Inu surrounded by short captions in colorful, lowercase Comic Sans font. I’ve read that the captions are supposed to signify what the Shiba was thinking or barking. I guess I remember thinking. 

The origin story of DOGE is a heartwarming one. The face of the crypto coin is an eight-year-old Shiba Inu named Kabosu. Atsuko Sato, a famous blogger in Japan, got them in 2008. Before their adoption, the dog was living in a puppy mill when the mill suddenly closed. Any dog not adopted was most likely put down. Luckily for Kabosu and the group of Doge enthusiasts that would eventually turn them into a meme, they were saved. The original photos of Kabosu’s and Sato’s blog can be found here

In the end, the entire concept of Dogecoin is strangely quirky, light-hearted, and fun. You can’t help but snicker and smile. The captions are short, with deliberately poor grammar, yet always coupled with an air of encouragement. You feel good reading them, almost like the little Shiba is cheering you on. The lack of specificity about anything objective leaves defining the subject matter up to the viewer. It’s kind of genius. Adjectives or adverbs like “such,” “many,” “so,” “much,” and “very” in expressions like “many happy” or “very guitar” are common when connected with words like “wow” and “moon.”

The origin story of the misspelling of Dog to Doge comes from a 2005 episode of Homerunner Star, an American Flash-animated surreal comedy web series created by Mike and Matt Chapman. The show mixes surreal humor, self-parody, and pop culture references, particularly video games, classic television, and popular music. This fact contextualized with the whole idea of Dogecoin’s original purpose of being a joke to rub in the face of suits and execs obsessed with crypto money-makers like Bitcoin and Ethereum makes total sense. Now that Dogecoin is slowly becoming a tangible way to buy things like videos on Pornhub and down payments on literal cars, and making early investors millionaires overnight, the joke-coin (shit-coin to many crypto enthusiasts) is beginning to shape a new reality for itself and its committed users.

One key figure in Dogecoin’s ongoing “joke” is billionaire Elon Musk, who has been quoted saying, “Fate loves irony.” Like many of Musk’s tweets, this sent Dogecoin soaring, yet the meaning rings true. Underneath Musk’s words may be the reason why Dogecoin succeeds in a market, specifically the crypto market, that seems so out of touch with the everyday person. Memes are digestible, fun, quick, and easily produced, much like Dogecoin. Elon Musk has also said that Dogecoin is “the people’s currency,” which can be interpreted a million ways, so I’ll save conflating the theoretical end-goal. For many, though, Dogecoin to $1 is a goal post. For some, it’s a finish line. Reaching $1 could open the floodgates of normalizing digital currency for all and not just the few that hold something as valuable and unsightly as, say, $2 of BTC (Bitcoin), which comes to $.00001953. As the Redditors love to post: 1 Dogecoin = $1

All of the above is why I got involved with Dogecoin about six months ago. I honestly thought the coin, the culture, and the story were funny, and I could potentially make some money in the far-off future. I looked at cryptos like UNISOCKS that were trading around $5000 at the beginning of this year. Today, UNISOCKS is worth around $100,000. I won’t get into the complexities of why such escalation happens because I have no clue, and, as the Redditors say, it’s best to do your own DD or “due diligence.” All I knew, or perhaps felt, was that I liked Dogecoin, leading me to invest a little before it exploded on January 29th, 2021.

Cryptocurrencies and I have always had a strange relationship. Back when Bitcoin crashed around 2017, I nearly bought a whole one around $3000 because I envisioned it one day becoming the “currency of the future,” which was just me reciting a post by some anonymous yahoo I had never met. Luckily, I didn’t do that because I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent that month. Unluckily, because BTC is currently hovering around 57k a coin. That’s one of many aspects of crypto and the stock market to a lesser degree, that has me presently checking my Robinhood and Voyager account hoping one day I’ll discover I’m a millionaire. On top of that, there’s research involved, aspects of gambling because you never really know what will happen to a crypto company (check out XRP’s and Tether’s recent allegations) and, most importantly, digital currency is continuously evolving. 

Adaptation theory, also known as survival theory or survival of the fittest, is an organism’s ability, in this case, crypto’s, to adapt to changes in its environment and adjust accordingly over time. Those that started paying attention to Bitcoin’s beginnings in 2008, much like Dogecoin in 2013, understand this universal fact. We see it in coins like Stormx, which currently allow you to earn interest while staking their coin, or Canada implementing a full-blown Bitcoin ETF. Progress is made by Dogecoin’s developers, its community, big investors, and ultimately normalizing its functionality to make life easier. With Dogecoin Core 1.14.3 coming out and furthering Dogecoin’s reach via the ever-growing stream of social media, one can only do what the veterans do: buy the dip and HODL.

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Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Winner of the ClarkGrossman and Wilner Award in Short Fiction, his work has been featured in Drunk Monkeys, The Millions, Music in SF and more. He survives in San Francisco.