How to explain NFTs so even your mom can understand them

Ah, NFTs: the newest crypto craze, and possibly the most confusing one yet. NFT is short for “non-fungible token,” which doesn’t really help, does it?

“Non-fungible” essentially means that it is unique and can’t be replaced with something else. An example of something that is fungible is a bitcoin, because if you trade one bitcoin for another bitcoin, you’ll have the same thing. An example of something that is non-fungible is a one-of-a-kind trading card. If you trade that card for another card, you’ll have something completely different.

Now that makes it seem somewhat simpler, but why are they so popular all of a sudden, despite being around since 2014? One of the causes seems to be that the auction house Christie’s made a record-breaking NFT sale, called “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days,” of art created by Mike Winkelmann. The sale was a pretty solid $69.3 million. This NFT was a collection of 5,000 pieces of digital art that Winkelmann had been making daily since 2007, and was one of the first events that caused the immense rise in NFTs.

But that raises the question, why are people buying them? NFTs are data units that are stored on blockchains, and once put into the blockchain, they cannot be erased nor modified. NFTs are very difficult to copy, so that gives some assurance; when someone buys an NFT, they are theoretically assured sole possession. People are drawn to NFTs because of the “unique” quality they have. When artists make NFTs, they often create a small number of limited-edition NFTs, and because of this “limited edition” moniker, people often pay high prices for them. NFTs are somewhat linked to collectibles, and we all know how much people are willing to pay for limited-edition collectibles. According to, NFTs are “a modern way to exchange collectibles, whether it’s artwork or an in-game asset, in numerous ways.”

Let’s also not forget about the communities based entirely on NFTs, such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), or the proposed project known as “Cryptoland.” The BAYC is a community that you can only enter if you purchased a Bored Ape NFT. There are a total of 10,000 Bored Ape NFTs, which all sold out in 12 hours for about $190 each. The BAYC also has a separate version of it, known as the Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC), which is essentially the same thing except the Ape NFTs themselves are mutated in various ways. 

Now, let’s talk about this Cryptoland’ I mentioned in the last paragraph. Cryptoland is supposed to be a real, physical island that is exclusively for crypto enthusiasts. However, many people have stopped taking the project seriously, and I don’t blame them.

Ben Butler of The Guardian wrote back in January that the real estate agent selling the island told them that the contract to sell it to Cryptoland fell through, and the island is back on the market. So, despite the hype for the island from crypto enthusiasts, it appears that the project won’t happen, or at least anytime soon. And let’s not mention the current situation that Cryptoland is in. Not long ago, Twitter user @widesauce publicly tweeted at Cryptoland, asking what the age of consent will be in Cryptoland, to which they responded by saying that mental maturity will suffice. Cryptoland soon after deleted this tweet, and apologized saying that someone who does not have English as their first language responded to that tweet, and they clearly misunderstood what @widesauce had asked. As of right now, people who tweet to Cryptoland with screenshots of the tweet get blocked without question. 

And of course, we can’t forget about this one final question. Why are NFTs so bad? For one thing, the creation of an NFT in the first place is dependent on environmentally disastrous blockchain mining. And all it really is, after all that destruction, is a receipt that kind of proves you own a digital file. NFT selling is somewhat responsible for the millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions generated by the cryptos used to buy and sell them. While this is a horrible thing that makes me wonder whether NFT buyers and sellers care about Earth at all, there are some NFT creators/sellers that take the profits they make from the NFTs they sell and invest that money in renewable energy, conservation projects, or technology that sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere. Of course, this doesn’t mean that NFTs aren’t a completely idiotic thing to do.