Bitcoin Is A Teacher
“After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
— Morpheus, 1999 film The Matrix
When trust erodes between institutions, stakeholders, and the broader community, individuals can be led to educate themselves more deeply and build a road to self-sufficiency. Once you discover something for the first time, you become immersed in it. I know this because it happened to me when I truly saw Bitcoin for the first time.
In late 2016-early 2017, a lot of life decisions were happening all at once. I graduated from business school, co-founded a company, got married, and bought a house. Of all of these life-changing events, nothing was more painful for me than the process of buying a house. It felt like the middlemen were extracting wealth without providing any reciprocal contribution to productivity. I would come to know this as “rent-seeking behavior.” Rent-seeking behavior creates nothing of value. The culprits, third-party intermediaries, included the banks, agents, and whoever else got paid fees to shuffle, print, and fax documents. It was this entire process that made me challenge my assumptions about money and government. I asked myself, “Why aren’t these job categories and business models obsolete?”
In this same period, Bitcoin’s value soared from $1000 to just under $20,000. I heard of Bitcoin years earlier in 2009, during the Great Recession and Occupy Wall Street movement but never thought much of it. Maybe I didn’t know enough about how the financial system worked or because I didn’t directly feel the pain. However, in 2017, I was driven to read Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper in which Nakamoto proposed a peer-to-peer transfer of virtual cash that would allow online payments. Upon reading the first page, two sentences glaringly stood out to me:
“A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”
“Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments.”
Bitcoin’s trustlessness provides economic incentives for honest behavior, effectively replacing middlemen. I made a personal connection to what Nakamoto was describing in the whitepaper. A light switch flicked on, and the scales from my eyes fell. My mental blindness was absolved, and I could see clearly for the first time. If the blue pill represents the current monetary and financial system, I joined the rebellion by swallowing the red pill. Much like Neo in The Matrix, an unpleasant truth was revealed to me, and I went down the proverbial rabbit hole.
I began listening to podcasts, following crypto Twitter accounts and subscribing to blogs. I’ve read books covering a wide range of topics like cryptocurrencies, inflation, economics, central banking, gold, software, energy, history, law, censorship, politics, and philosophy. I began to gain a stronger foundation on financial literacy and a new approach to life. Gigi describes this enlightenment in “21 Lessons: What I’ve Learned from Falling Down the Bitcoin Rabbit Hole”:
“Bitcoin is indeed a game disguised. It is akin to a trapdoor, a gateway to a different world. A world much stranger than I would have ever imagined it to be. A world which takes your assumptions and shatters them into a thousand tiny pieces, again and again. Stick around for long enough, and Bitcoin will completely change your worldview.”
I’m forever a student thanks to Bitcoin, and it may be the best teacher I’ve ever had. Bitcoin is teaching me that money is a medium for the transfer of time and energy. Bitcoin is teaching me that I can become my own bank. Bitcoin is teaching me to unlearn, shift my perspective, and disregard the status quo.
Three years in, my worldview is forever changed, and I’m optimistic about the future. I’m eager to continue learning by falling down the bottomless rabbit hole that is Bitcoin.
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