Scratching your head about crypto? Here are two reasons to buy tokens.
It’s not a gamble. It’s supporting an experiment.
Few sights are as troubling and as unedifying as that of some poor wretch (and it usually is a poor wretch) hunched over a scratch ticket and scrubbing away at the UV ink with a creepy if tragic intensity that is neither mechanical nor yet fully human. It’s a certain sort that gets a thrill out of scratch tickets, and yes: I am being judgmental. I’ve yet to see a well-kempt individual emerge from a convenience store with a fist full of scratchers, sit in his Bentley, and fill his lap with silvery, gummy flakes of dream dust. There’s probably a reason for that. Maybe I’m frequenting the wrong 7-elevens, but I doubt it. What I do know is that scratch tickets are part of the lottery industry’s participation in addiction by design, and their very existence fills me with rage.
Cryptos have zero saturated fat, they are totally vegan, they do not generate paper waste, and they are intrinsically cooler than scratch tickets.
The standard defense of scratch tickets is that they’re an innocuous form of adult entertainment, and that revenue generated from the sales of these nasty little squares of cardboard help the state do all the important things states need money to do, including fund good works and underwrite socially-valuable programs.
There is, however, something morally reprehensible about any scheme that knowingly takes advantage those who should be spending their money on other things. From my eyrie, the average scratchie addict doesn’t appear to have either a lot of discretionary cash, or sense. Theirs isn’t a demographic that’s likely to get turned on by Dan Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.
“A standard defense is that lotteries are just a form of entertainment, not a legitimate investment. That should be true, but studies confirm that some folks, particularly those who can ill afford a bad bet, think that if they play enough times, the money they spend will eventually pay off. Lotteries benefit from that misconception.” -Ariel Kaminer (2011)
Let’s call a spade a spade. Buying cryptos at their ICO is more like gambling than speculation. I’m not a gambler. But my position on these digital curiosities is simple: when a token costs less than the price of a single lottery ticket, it’s worth buying.
Yes: the odds of winning back my money on a scratch ticket might be better than the odds of my making any return on my crypto. But who knows, really? Maybe the twenty bucks I drop on the latest token will yield a hefty return by the end of the month. It probably won’t. But I say: if you’re into scratch tickets (and I hope you’re not), or if you waste ten or more dollars a week on crap fast food (and I hope you don’t), you’re comprehensively better off rolling the dice with a few cryptos. Cryptos have zero saturated fat, are totally vegan, do not generate paper waste, and are intrinsically cooler than scratch tickets. Tell folks at a party that you just dropped 100 bucks on scratch tickets and see how far that gets you. Mention casually that you’ve just bought some crypto, and you’ve got a conversation.
Why the hell not?
But the possible big payout — a massive Winklevoss-sized return — isn’t really the main reason I’m dabbling in crypto, in amounts I can afford to wager. The draw for me is intentionally funding experiments in alternative ways of using computational resources to achieve valuable ends.
Scratch the surface of the blockchain narrative and you’ll find impassioned meta-rhetoric about decentralization, transparency, consensus, and censorship. The body of the blockchain might be hard-headed code that only the initiated appreciate, but the animating spirit is sociopolitical and experimental. That’s part of what I am investing in.
Do I personally worry about the tyranny of centralized systems tout court? Not really. Do I want to “disrupt” the extant global banking system? No. I have a soft-spot for authoritarianism, and prefer wise oligarchies to unwise democracies. I’d join the Illuminati, if I could contact their membership liaison. Blockchain’s anti-censorship narrative is also wasted on me (I’m a republican, in the Platonic sense), and I think the whole “transparency” card is being overplayed. And just in case I’m not being clear enough: I’m happy for Google to use whatever personal data I agree to give them. I think it’s fair that those who have invested in the creation, publication, and maintenance of the apps I use and value do exploit and monetise the tiny bit of data they have about me and my behaviour as a user. Data silos? Whatever. To the victor, the spoils. Companies are promoting their Dapps on Facebook, so, let’s not be disingenuous about the valuable role now played by today’s digital hegemons.
You’re supporting a very worthwhile experiment.
But blockchain is attracting a great deal of rabidly motivated high-caliber talent from all over the world; and it is for this reason I’m betting that this feverish craze is unlikely to come to naught. Blockchain may or may not revolutionize how we store, distribute, use, and trade data; but innovative products (like the AdRealm ecosystem and the Xhance dApp) are poised to teach the world how the value-potential of data can be more effectively harnessed, and put to better use. That’s what I’m investing in: experimentation.
Buying-in during an ICO is acknowledgment of the value of bold, bleeding-edge experimentation, and a thumbs-up to all those crazy enough to storm a fortress that possibly neither deserves nor needs sacking. I’m buying AdRealm’s ARMs as a token of my respect for what they are attempting. In the case of AdRealm, I’m hot for ARM because the AdRealm business-model makes sense. Yes: their team is newsih to blockchain, but they’ve more than proven themselves elsewhere.
My modest portfolio of crypto may or may not one day get me behind the wheel of a high-end luxury car. I’m not anticipating that it will. Neither is my small accumulation of crypto symbolic a middle finger at the banking industry. Banks and centralized specie are necessary — — if you want an Alfa Romeo, you’ve got to have the fiat.
But for the price of an IHOB platter, I can support a worthwhile endeavor, and own a small if intangible piece of a fascinating historical moment. Scratch ticket addicts are miserably insensate to their own self-pollution, and the ostensibly good ends towards which some lottery cash is directed do not seem to me to justify or counterbalance the clear and present evil of the exploitation upon which the whole sick racket depends.
Scooping-up a little crypto, however, is win in its own right. And therein lies the rub.
This article was reuploaded from J Ellis Cameron-Perry’s LinkedIn page, with explicit permission. Please check the original source if you’d like to see more of his content!