The trove of 1.5 million messages posted to the Ethereum blockchain offers a vibrant cross-section of life on-chain.

While most degens exclusively leverage blockchains for financial transactions, distributed ledgers also facilitate the immortalization of messages on-chain.

More than 1.5 million messages have been published on the Ethereum blockchain to date, providing a snapshot into the cross-section of life on-chain.

A recent analysis by CroissantEth, a web3 influencer, found love letters, song lyrics, and obituaries buried in Ethereum’s block history.

The network captures moments of elation, desperation, and everything in between — even religious proclamations about the Buddha.

But while some of the messages published on blockchains are trivial, on-chain messaging also provides a critically important utility — facilitating the immutable, censorship-resistant, and permanent publication of information.

“A blockchain is, at its core, digital speech; it’s a ledger that communicates across space and time, energy, and debits and credits,” Arthur Hayes, the former CEO of BitMEX, told The Defiant. “It is absolutely central to the value proposition of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies that speech be unfettered. As such, any ways in which a public blockchain can preserve free speech should be supported.”

In 2018, a Chinese student activist published an open letter on Ethereum after the note was censored on local social media. The letter claimed that the author, Yue Xin, was forced to destroy a request for information concerning a sexual misconduct case at Peking University, a prestigious university that Xin attended. The victim allegedly killed herself in 1998 after being harassed by a professor at Peking University, and her story became a rallying cry for China’s #MeToo movement at the time.

Amid the covid-10 pandemic in 2020, Sarah Zheng, a Chinese journalist, used Ethereum to publish an interview with a Wuhan-based doctor on the subject of the disease’s outbreak after the interview was banned from WeChat. The doctor claimed she was the subject of “unprecedented and severe reprimand” by local authorities in December 2019 after issuing a warning to other medical professionals concerning a patient diagnosed with covid-19 as the existence of an atypical pneumonia-like illness first began to come to light.

Less than three weeks later, the World Health Organization launched a blockchain-based platform for sharing data on the coronavirus pandemic. The platform, MiPasa, leveraged Hyperledger — a permissioned fork of Ethereum.

Ethereum has consistently proved a popular platform for Chinese dissidents seeking to speak out against political repression.

“Oct 13th, 2022, a citizen put up pro-democracy banners in Beijing, he/she was arrested by police, and related images were censored,” one Ethereum user wrote on Oct. 23, 2022. “We, people of China, want to spread this message that speaks our minds in places without censorship… Freedom NOT Lockdown. Dignity NOT Lies. Reform NOT Regression. Elections NOT Dictatorship. Citizens NOT Slaves. #End Xictatorship #FreeChina.”

“Censorship resistance is a core tenant of blockchains,” Hudson Jameson, formerly of the Ethereum Foundation, told The Defiant. “It is one of the main things separating what we build from an ordinary distributed network.”

Jameson noted that the immutable nature of blockchains enables a variety of powerful use cases, including providing timestamping for patent blueprints and other time-sensitive documentation.

“I strongly believe prior art arguments in patent cases will eventually utilize blockchains as a way to provably timestamp an invention,” Hudson said. “There is also applicability with proving you had an idea for a patent or a submitted patent before others.”

Numerous projects have also sought to utilize Ethereum and other blockchains to create land ownership registries. These efforts typically seek to overcome disputes resulting from incomplete or missing land ownership records and combat corrupt land seizures in emerging economies.

Combing through blockchain messages

Last month, CroissantEth shared some of the highlights from a deep dive into the trove of messages hosted on Ethereum to social media.

“It’s such a wonderfully dark and beautiful place at the same time,” they tweeted.

While many of the on-chain messages unearthed exhibit few intentions beyond aimlessly farting into a binary void, others were sent to specific recipients with direct intent.

Desperate pleas from hackers’ victims

Victims of hacks and scams reaching out to their assailants comprise a common theme among on-chain messages.

One user claimed to be engaging in satanic rituals involving severed goat heads in a bid to summon dark spirits that would avenge their financial losses.

“Every goddamn night, I will summon the Dark Lord himself and make a blood offering, demanding your immediate damnation,” an Ethereum user said. “Here’s your last chance: return my ETH or face a hex worse than anything you could’ve ever imagined.”

Others sought revenge through less esoteric means.

“We have already confirmed your identity, and the police forces of China, the USA, and Russia have been involved,” the apparent victim of a hack wrote. “All stolen funds have been marked for tracking and cannot be used, and the financial counterparties will be frozen. Return by November 25, 2023, and we will offer a $10 million white hat reward. If not returned by that time, police forces from multiple countries will take action.”

Another user threatened to take their own life should a hacker fail to return 125 stolen Ether, claiming to be hiding the loss from their spouse and family — an unfortunately prevalent theme.

“I am contacting you as a last resort before suicide, because my life has lost all meaning since you took everything,” the purported victim posted.“My two daughters and my wife… are not aware that I lost everything in your exploit.”

Random acts of kindness

By contrast, some messages showcased crypto holders’ propensity for random acts of kindness.

“I’m crying, thank you for your help,” one user wrote after reaching out to random wallets requesting financial assistance and receiving 0.5 ETH from an anonymous address. “You don’t know how much it means to me.”

However, most pleas for charity were left unanswered.

“Hey, happy New Year, I have birthday tomorrow,” one wallet said. “[Could] you send something, anything whould be good. I have lost one leg few year ago and can’t work good.”

On-chain love letters

Blockchains also host deeply personal interactions, including romance.

“In the first few blocks after Zcash launched, someone sent a transaction with an encrypted memo to someone that contained an IPFS hash that pointed to concert tickets,” Jameson said. “It was an encrypted love note on-chain.”

Ethereum’s library of on-chain messages similarly features many crypto-native professions of love.

“For Donya, echo of the universe, a beacon in the vast expanse,” one letter said. “In a multiverse of paths untold beside you, I yearn to roam, with a whisper and a dance of our own, our hands, perfectly entwined.”

Another message records that Mr. Yang and Ms. Du became engaged on Dec. 3, 2021, in Beijing.

However, not every love letter appeared to culminate in a happy ending.

“I was a naive soul named John, captivated by Emily’s charm,” ‘John’ said. “Love’s promises shattered, leaving me broken… I am now burdened and my life has lost hope.”

Other messages could be grounds for a restraining order.

“Hi Sal… I really wish you would unblock me,” another wallet wrote. “Every moment since you blocked me has felt like an eternity as I wait for you to hopefully unblock me and send me a message… I know it’s only been a few days but I’m scared I’m going to lose you forever.”

Rivals become partners

Enemies have even turned allies through on-chain messaging, with two rival arbitrage trading bot operators appearing to put their differences aside in the name of maximizing profits.

“Hi man, I know we are competing with each other,” one user said. “The final ending is there is no profit we can gain. I can given you a half profit whenever I make a shot if you give up… I will make a new contract which transfers a half to you automatically.”

“Good, will keep an eye for you if there’s new competitor,” the recipient replied. “Can share your gas cost if there’s any competition.”

Happy birthday, Vitalik

Ethereum users have leveraged the power of immutable messaging simply to send birthday wishes.

“Happy Birthday, Vitalik!” one wallet sent to Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s chief scientist. “Your groundbreaking work is changing lives all over the world, providing access to financial possibilities for countless individuals.”

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