I’m a Bitcoin Enthusiast, not a Maximalist!
I want to set the record straigt. Bitcoiners choose to ignore to many problems. We need to do better and hold ourselves to a higher standard! This is how I deal with it.
Before you judge me, take a deep breath and continue to read. The title of this article is by choice, and I intended it to be provocative. So please bear with me.
It’s been a while since I posted a blog article. There are two reasons for this. One is the Christmas season. A time I cherish and try to work as little as possible. The other is a conscious break from any social media platform. I do this every year. It’s a great time to clean the house, read that article you’ve been neglecting for weeks or watch a great movie.
This time, I used my break and set my goals for 2023. One of my goals is to be more cautious of my time and the information I consume. The purpose of this is to be more aware of what I read. It’s common in my profession to overconsume and forget what you just read. You can do that once or twice, but if you start forgetting everything, you’re in serious trouble. You start ignoring certain viewpoints or, even worse, fall victim to a bubble.
And it’s that last part I want to focus more of my time on. Whether you’re interested in Bitcoin or something else, you have to admit the more time you invest into something, the blinder you become. Initially, you might be more critical of certain arguments, but the more time you spend with one particular thing, the easier it is for you to ignore potential worries.
Back in December, I published an article called ‘Slay Your Bitcoin Heroes.’ In it, I explained why it’s good to question influencers and be critical of every piece of information provided. This article came up on my Substack app again. I wasn’t looking for it, but I reread it. Call me crazy, but I like to read what I put out there.
This article inspired me to break my social media rule and open my Twitter lists. In there, I decided to do a new years clean and go through all my different lists. The goal was to look at each profile and ask myself if these people add to a healthy discussion.
The Bitcoin bubble
I quickly realized that most of the people I was following were very opinionated about Bitcoin. Again, this is to be expected. If you’re very deeply invested in a topic, you end up bending reality ever so slightly. We see the same phenomenon with other groups as well. In the Bitcoin and crypto space, everything is much more exaggerated. Everyone is calling each other out.
From the outside looking in, we look like lunatics who’re constantly arguing. The funny thing is, it’s not even the Bitcoin vs. Ethereum fights. It’s within the communities where you see the most fights, whether the KYC or Non-KYC fights. The pro or against regulation debates or more primitive things like calling everything besides Bitcoin a shitcoin. Bitcoin, unlike other projects, doesn’t have a central authority, which is a good thing in my opinion, but it leaves its public persona up to the grassroots movement, which is the issue.
There is a vast majority of bitcoiners who accept the fact that there are other opinions out there. They encourage people to use Bitcoin but don’t judge too hard if they’re not doing it. I’m also one of these people. I always hold 90% in Bitcoin. The remaining 10% are primarily stablecoins. Mostly because I get paid in them, and I always have some left over. Either buy some cheap Bitcoin or send them worldwide for payments. I don’t judge if anyone holds more stablecoins or still has some other cryptocurrency. We don’t know why another person is doing what they’re doing. Therefore I believe we shouldn’t judge them if they’re out to make a quick buck with something other than Bitcoin. Honestly, most of us got into the space because we wanted to make money.
The remaining bitcoiners are the ones I want to focus on. Because they favor Bitcoin above all else, they have the obnoxious habit of provoking and ridiculing stuff. The best case for this is how the hardcore Bitcoin community embraced Vitalik Buterin’s name for them: Toxic Bitcoin Maximalists. I always struggled with one word in that description: Toxicity. When has something toxic ever been good? Not in nature, a relationship, and definitely not in finance!
Some make the case that the toxicity adds to the noise, which is how you convince people of Bitcoin. OK, but don’t you annoy people this way? If someone doesn’t understand it, why should we ridicule them? I’m a fan of tough love, but not mockery. However, we live in a time where being loud gives you more likes or retweets. You become online famous for being an arrogant prick. Everyone has done this in the past. Including myself! I have called other projects shitcoins in the past. Granted, some of them are idiotic, but again there might be a small group of them who’re solving real-world issues in underdeveloped countries.
A few months ago, I posted an article called ‘Why I became a Bitcoin Maximalist’ In it, I mentioned how we need toxicity and being extreme is something good. Looking back now, I laugh at these statements. These couldn’t be further from the original ideas behind Bitcoin.
You’ll find no mention of toxicity or maximalism in the whitepaper. The goal was to build a peer-to-peer payment system that doesn’t rely on third parties. But the community drifted apart and in some cases, look at the mess with GBTC and DCG. It became another asset for massive institutions that want to control.
This doesn’t mean that Bitcoin is a lost cause, but you have to admit that it drifted apart from its original vision, which is part of the institutional money that came into the space. You play devil’s advocate and give up some moral playgrounds but get a lot of liquidity. A trade many bitcoiners seemed happy about because it filled their bags. But that’s a topic for a later article.
I am going back to my former article. I already mentioned how I was never comfortable with the very narrow-minded mindset of calling everything a scam. Because if we do this, we end up neglecting actual scams. I’m talking about Bernie Madoff, Elizabeth Holmes, or OneCoin. These were Ponzi schemes and intentionally scammed people out of their life savings. If we’re just easygoing with the term scam, we start ignoring such projects and don’t help the beginner in the space. He or she might be sucked into the marketing hype and end up losing money. Bitcoiners could be more cautious in their wording, and instead of calling everything a scam, sit down and explain to newbies what’s so dangerous about this. Very few actually do because it’s easier to say to buy Bitcoin and forget about it, which is a shame.
The problem with ignorance
Whether you’re a Bitcoin OG or just joined, you have to admit that this is pure ignorance. Whether you’re a fan of payment rails, the Lightning network, or stablecoins doesn’t matter. These are projects, and the name of the game is how long they survive, but just because something is not aligned with your narrow view of the world, you shouldn’t ignore it. Even if the project fails, you might be able to pick up some pieces or talent to work on a different project.
The same can be said for the market and exchanges. Many hardcore bitcoiners argue that it would be nice if we saw the likes of Kraken, Gemini, and Binance go bust. OK, apart from the fact that this would be a huge contagion and many people would lose the last bit of trust they have in the system, it would also be catastrophic for Bitcoin.
So many of the Bitcoin on-ramps rely on such partners. Even though you might buy your Bitcoin KYC free, where do you think the on-ramp got the coins from? They often have APIs where they purchase Bitcoin from an exchange and send it to the wallet address you entered. Very few of them actually have their own treasury. Or they rely on companies who use partners like Prime Trust, who’ve also been under pressure in the past. Just because a company is Bitcoin only doesn’t mean that they do everything right.
Which is something many hardcore bitcoiners choose to ignore. I can’t tell you why. ‘Don’t trust. Verify’ is one of the main mantras in the Bitcoin landscape. Why so many ignore this and look away or don’t verify is beyond me.
Am I a Bitcoin hater?
One could make the case that I’m a Bitcoin hater now and bash fellow bitcoiners, which is not the goal of this article. Let me set the record straight: No, I’m not! As I mentioned above, I used the time to clean my social feeds and ask myself what I wanted to do in 2023. Number one on my list is to be more critical of Bitcoin itself.
Too much on Bitcoin Twitter is all sunshine and rainbow. If one is questioning the narrative, all hardcore bitcoiners step in and ridicule that person. I’m here to say we need to stop with this and embrace these opinions. Rome wasn’t built in a day. There were glorious times and dark times when they needed to change how things worked.
If we would continue down this road of ignoring all the risks and blindly believing everything will only go up, we end up with a lost cause. Things like Lightning are great in theory, but it still takes a lot of work. As a matter of fact, we can only start convincing people about Bitcoin’s utility if they use it without even knowing. You see this with companies like Square, who’re working to integrate the Bitcoin tech stack into their Point of Sale systems. The more projects and use cases we have, the easier it will be to show people what is possible.
From my end, I see a future where Bitcoin will have to solve real-world issues. If that means that we build products that allow FIAT on Bitcoin, then so be it. The goal of Bitcoin is to have a peer-to-peer alternative to the current financial rails. If they succeed and everyone in the world accepts that, great! If we don’t, well, at least we have an alternative. Embracing open markets means we accept the desire of that market.
I’m very much aware that hardcore bitcoiners will categorize me as a softy, spook, or whatever you want to call it. The fact is, I’m ok with this. They’re entitled to their opinions, just as much as I’m. My goal is to help people understand Bitcoin and use it for whatever they need. I don’t have time to argue with people.
This is why I’m calling myself a Bitcoin enthusiast, not a maximalist. I want people to use Bitcoin, see its possibilities, and be critical of its future. Just because you like it, it doesn’t mean others do as well. Take your time, accept that people also hold other assets, and be happy if one of them starts holding Bitcoin. I encourage you to be critical, question what others do, and be courageous enough to call people out for their views!