This is an opinion editorial by Holly Young, Ph.D., an active builder of the Portuguese Bitcoin community.
The number of people buying and using Bitcoin is increasing. Jason Deane calculated that in the first six months of 2021, the number of Bitcoin users grew by about 165 people per minute. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
But we have to get to a point where Bitcoin takes its place in common parlance and we all have a role to play.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’ve experienced the personal epiphany that is the “discovery” of Bitcoin. Most of us can also recognize the stages of others. We tend to move from skepticism to a tentative trial of Bitcoin and a small investment, a (usually short) phase in which we think that this or that altcoin is also a viable investment (be honest, you probably did too at some point and no , it wasn’t just the state of the market at the time – doing your own research also includes at least considering the other options before concluding that maximalism is the way to go). And then comes the, for most of us, precipitous and irreversible fall down the rabbit hole. At this stage, we can’t get enough. We are hungry for real information about money. Most of us have been that person who sits for 30 minutes in a car parked at their destination to listen to the latest bit of the podcast while the penny drops. Not just a penny, but a brilliant cascade of them. I know I have it.
Then comes the time when your life starts to change too. You start to question everything, because if what you knew before about money wasn’t true, what does that mean for healthcare? For diet? For family or dating? Even your relationship with God?
There’s no denying it: “finding” Bitcoin is absolutely life-changing, and once you’ve seen it, there’s no going back.
For many of us, this can lead to difficult life changes. We may find ourselves alienated from previous social circles, even relationships and family. And then comes the sudden and wonderful realization that the Bitcoin community is already out there. For many of us, spending time with other Bitcoiners represents the first time we’re not considered an outsider.
Then we want to tell everyone we know. We are desperate to inform friends, family, colleagues, even that random stranger standing next to us in the supermarket queue. For many of these people, this process of contact and learning will be as life-changing as it has been for you and me. But it still regularly happens that we don’t manage to deliver the message we wanted to bring and that the learning opportunity that gets lost in the supermarket queue. The adoption, frankly, is nowhere near where we expected it to be, given the circumstances. So where are we going wrong?
Bitcoin on the kitchen table
Let’s be honest, it is carry to talk about money According to this article, money is the top three topics that couples argue about, along with sex and children. (Incidentally, the Bitcoin community also sheds light on these issues.)
Being able to talk about money within your family is a really crucial skill. We should be able to have smooth, relaxed conversations about money, and the basis of those conversations should be about the real nature of money: where it comes from, how it works, and what we should do about it. To get to this point we have to educate friends and family about algebra (money) and trigonometry (banking and the financial system) before explaining calculus (bitcoin). Speaking in extremely practical terms can be very helpful for this. What problem does bitcoin solve for you? What problem does bitcoin solve for friends and family? What problem does bitcoin solve for those living in the global south or under repressive regimes?
We are also suffering from a dearth of good and accessible learning resources for this purpose. The Bitcoin Standard is a great resource for those who are really willing to learn about money, but it still requires a significant investment of time and can be a bit much to ask of anyone just starting out. We need more resources for people to see within the first half hour of their interest, resources that will give us an overview and spark interest to learn more. We need some good Bitcoin books for children, because children are always the future, and our children in particular, as those who will have learned at the earliest age about Bitcoin, who will never have known a world before Bitcoin , in many cases. A quick shout out to Bitcoin Rabbi Michael Caras for writing an excellent one: “Bitcoin Money: A Tale of Bitville Discovering Good Money”.
Take down your Twitter handle and walk away with your hands in the air
boys We need to talk about Twitter.
As much as we all go through a phase of thinking this or that altcoin is the next big investment before seeing the point and denouncing altcoins for the scams they are, we also go through a phase of telling ourselves and others that we are Twitter “to learn”. As with all the most convincing excuses, there is a grain of truth. Negotiating your way through the plethora of Bitcoin content, the good, the bad and the ugly, can be a tough call. Twitter can help you identify the people (influencers, if you will) who have the most buzzwords about Bitcoin, who have the sweetest soundbites, who can most succinctly tell you why they’re a Bitcoin Maximalist this week.
It’s also about who hates who right now, who we’re writing off because they might have had the audacity to charge for a course, because they dared to suggest that maximalism is getting a little toxic around the edges, or who currently has the dubious honor of being the focus of negative attention.
While Twitter has played an undeniable role in the development of the international Bitcoin community (and I can only take a moment to acknowledge that many Bitcoiners, quite rightly, love Jack Dorsey), it is also playing a destructive role, consuming our time and our attention and wasting our energy on useless infighting. We will never insult people for financial freedom. Encouraging people to do their own research is undermined by the cancellation culture.
We need solid, interesting and engaging materials for those who are just starting out and learning about Bitcoin.
Here’s a thought. Take a look at how much screen time you spend on Twitter every day and make a promise: take half of that time and spend it explaining Bitcoin to someone new or developing something online that people can use as learning resource
If you want to unfollow on Twitter, do it privately. Take it outside to the virtual IM parking lot.
A call to arms
Who did you make an orange pill this week? We underestimate the power of community, and joining a community as such is not necessarily a part of becoming a Bitcoiner; just one of the beautiful things about the freedom it brings is that you can choose how far you want to go in the experience. But once you’ve seen the ugly soul of the fiat system and the pristine alternative Bitcoin offers, you can’t look away. One could even argue that there is also a moral and ethical duty to help others towards a better system.
So here is my request. Take some of your time this week to make some positive contributions in the form of an orange stack. We can’t all be Jack Dorsey, Michael Saylor or Lyn Alden. But we can all make Bitcoin the topic of discussion around the kitchen table. We can all share the knowledge and information we have gathered with those close to us, yes, even at the supermarket.
Invest some of your time thinking about the message about Bitcoin that you share with others. Troubleshoot your approach. Are you doing something effectively? where are you going wrong And if you can, please share those learning experiences as well.
This is a guest post by Holly Young. The opinions expressed are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.