2022

Why thinking about Bitcoin still matters in a messy world

Don’t look now, but there are signs the world is unraveling all around us. Systems we once trusted to maintain order and sanity aren’t as solid as we thought. It’s hard to be sure if anything we see on the news or in an official report is even true. In such an unstable socio-political environment, is it still worthwhile to think about Bitcoin all day? I find myself asking this sometimes.

Maybe I’m overly pessimistic or spend too much time “doomscrolling” on the internet. But it gets hard to ignore the growing news stream about food and energy shortages, public health crises, inflation and economic collapse, censorship and the threat of totalitarianism, or even major war. Some of these problems have intruded on our everyday lives over the past two years, so even turning off your screens for a while doesn’t make them go away.

I’ll admit, there are times when monitoring Bitcoin developments feel like a frivolous distraction from “real world” problems. SPV standards, exchange events, and intellectual property cases are all major stories in this industry. But would they still matter if we stopped reading about them? Maybe we’d be better off learning how to grow our own food or purify water, develop local security networks, defend our families’ health, or learn how to build a bunker in the mountains?

To put it another way: maybe we’re overthinking about the plumbing and not worrying enough that the house itself is falling apart? 

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t falling apart at all. We’re going through a rough patch, but in the entirety, people are trustworthy and our civilizational impulses are more deeply ingrained. Instincts that desire order are stronger than those seeking chaos, and everything will return to its normal state within a few years. There are definitely forces out there whose mission is to amplify anxiety and make us feel insecure; worrying about them too much only fuels their machine. But in a few years, we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about and get back to building a more honest monetary systems and a better internet that serves the public good.

Spoiler alert: I do think it still matters to focus on Bitcoin. I wouldn’t be doing this job if I didn’t. But more on that further down. Some issues in Bitcoin (and blockchain in general) probably deserve less attention than they get. I have a preference for use-cases and new ideas that hand power over personal data back to the people.

Blockchain’s corrupted mission

It’s a shame we even have to ask these questions, though. Bitcoin was supposed to be the exciting new tech that helped us ride some future apocalyptic wave. Threats of inflation and national monetary failure were meant to drive Bitcoin adoption, not hinder it. 

But there hasn’t been a rush to embrace digital assets in 2021-22. Quite the opposite, actually—at the first sniff of doom, price speculators headed for the door. BTC’s promises of freeing the economy and being the world’s new money does sound ridiculous as its price plummets below 2017’s hype cycle.

One of the reasons we arrived at this point is that we allowed Bitcoin’s message to become corrupted. Talk of micro-fee transactions, people in developing countries are making and exchanging goods for a dollar at a time dissipated as the focus shifted to 1000x gains and buying garish Bitcoin bling. For all the hype, only a tiny percentage of people ever benefited from this. The general public, the ones Bitcoin was meant to free, got pushed aside. The “best” example of daily use we have for BTC now is El Salvador. Like BTC itself, it’s generally a mess of techno-opportunism, bolt-on fixes that don’t work properly, and price volatility that would raise eyebrows in Zimbabwe. Corruption seeped into the blockchain world just as it worked its way into other institutions we once trusted.

“Users” are abandoning blockchain and digital assets because this stuff doesn’t make them rich quickly and reliably enough. Power users will brag about how they got out at the top, lecturing the less-savvy who got wrecked about how they should’ve been smarter. Outside of BSV, there’s little conversation about utility (DeFi schemes notwithstanding) or why more trustworthy data networks, monetary and non-monetary, are even needed for regular people.

That’s a less exciting topic than price speculation and new NFT collections. But the price speculators just burned down the house and walked away, talking about the wild night they had. And let’s be honest: if the market price for BSV coins suddenly leaped to $10K tomorrow, 99% of the conversation would shift back to gains and parties, even in unsteady 2022. BSV may be more reliable and useful than other blockchains, but it’s not immune to their problems.

There’s never a wrong time to want honesty and trust

So yes, it still matters to think about Bitcoin and building honest systems while all this is happening. That’s because there’s never really a wrong time to long for a better, freer, and more prosperous world. Plumbing equipment conventions aren’t for everyone, but the demand for better plumbing always grows because it advances civilization (try living without it for a few weeks in a big city and you’ll know what I mean). 

As long as the internet still exists, some will work to make it worse, and others to make it better. The same goes for banking and financial networks. Those forces for good must always be there, even when it doesn’t feel like they’re winning.

There’s a genuine demand out there for more honesty and trust. Right now no one can agree on the exact ways to achieve this, but the demand is there and waiting to be met. People are losing faith in institutions and systems, so we must present alternatives. Our message should be about demonstrating Bitcoin’s real-world benefits, just not in crass or superficial ways. If I were more of a marketing expert, I’d start a consultancy, but in the meantime, I’ll just keep asking the people who know better.

That’s why in messy 2022, it’s still right to stay interested in Bitcoin and maintain a focus on fulfilling Bitcoin’s original promise. When the voices demanding honesty and trust get loud enough, there will need to be a supply to answer them—and that won’t happen if we stop thinking about Bitcoin every day.

Watch: Latif Ladid’s Keynote Speech: IPv6-Based 5G/6g, IoT and Blockchain at the BSV Global Blockchain Convention

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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