Bitcoin as Pure Cringe

Bitcoin

TL;DR: Cryptocurrency once again wormed its viral way via social media coverage to wider acknowledgment and scorn. An investigative journalist for US progressive online site ProPublica snapped the surreal scene of a George Floyd-related protestor being photographed while holding his makeshift sign. In the midst of chaos and police action, it read, “Bitcoin will save us.”

Bitcoin as Pure Cringe

Reporter Jessica Huseman live-tweeted coverage of George Floyd-related protests in Austin, Texas. By now such revelations are standard fare: clashes between local police and protestors, vignettes on those participating at various levels, and her being a general journalistic witness to an undoubtedly historic moment in United States history.

This is the actual photo taken by Jessica Huseman. The featured image is a parody of Neeraj K. Agrawal from Coin Center made by Larry Cermak of The Block as a tease. Agrawal was a hilariously good sport about publishing Cermak’s well-made fake in the artice’s feature thumb and the inset (which at first I didn’t notice I uploaded as Cermak’s brilliant PS). The feature stands as a testimony to cringe upon cringe and because it makes me smile.   

In the thread published on the last day of May 2020, an evening that saw 50 million Americans forcibly locked down by curfew in major cities due to civil unrest, Huseman came across a bizarre non-sequitur. A younger man well in line with reported protestor demographics posed, holding a sign. He was apparently being photographed by a professional (if not using a phone to take pictures is solid enough indication) because of the cardboard, hastily drawn message, “Bitcoin will save us.”

Huseman meta captured the scene, adding a swipe of exasperation, “Christ.” It’d been a long night for her, and among the carnage and devastation, a Bitcoin reference was exactly the punctuation she didn’t need. Before I go too much further, Huseman has a recent history with Bitcoin references and ire. Last year, she snarked her way into Crypto Twitter’s obligatory Two Minutes Hate by posting out of the blue, “all I’m saying ladies is that if he brings up bitcoin or blockchain unprompted in the first date there shouldn’t be a second,” during a follow-up response to a now-suspended account on the vagaries of turnoffs. She became a kind of anti-infuencer.

Time and Place: Get a Feel for the Room

And so her latest response fits snugly into the smug brand she cultivates on social media. She also has a really valid point, however, about time and place, probably in both cases, and especially when social catastrophe is in progress. Maybe real-time apocryphal riots, looting, racial tensions, police brutality, and the collapse of the general order isn’t the right moment to bring up wonders of an open-source software project used mostly by degenerate gamblers. Bitcoiners need to learn how to read a fucking room.

Bitcoin

When I was single, I had friends like this. The average woman wants chill, slow burn, a sane night session to feel out any potential. A dude instantly going all-in with religious-like fervor on any topic can dampen the chance for a spark, for her to get inquisitive, leading to wanting to know more about him. Those dudes who make rash promises or claims, like Bitcoin, rarely get a second date.

And so too we have it here with another cringe Bitcoin moment. No, dingdong, Bitcoin will not save us. It’s not a cureall, and stop telling new folks it is. That is a huge enthusiasm killer for normal folks. It’s not the time or place to go that route in that way, in other words. I don’t want you to lose your enthusiasm or passion, but I do want you to be able to recognize the difference in not doing more harm.

Replace Bit with One, and the Message is Obvious

Some of us are starting to sound like Dr. Ruja Ignatova of OneCoin fame. That’s right. That sign in Austin last night is like the damn Missing Cryptoqueen. Replace “Bitcoin” with “OneCoin,” and you’ll immediately catch what I mean. Try stopping your eyes from rolling as you read. Yes, Bitcoin is an amazing, hinge-of-history type of financial technology. It is not a cure for racism or a growing police state, no matter how much verbal jiu-jitsu you introduce into the argument.

Bitcoin can’t even solve basic fee problems as represented by its best-known ticker, its leading project by market capitalization, BTC. It’s hardly being used for any kind of commerce beyond speculation and a Greater Fool arrangement backed by Tether … which is pegged, we assume, to the US dollar — the very currency Bitcoin was said to replace. Its adoption growth has all but stillbirthed. So, maybe during a riot isn’t the best time to offer it up as a solution. You know, we were just about to burn down this building, but we saw your sign; tell us more. “Christ,” is right.

The reason I love the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community is that we see so little of this kind of nonsense. The peer-to-peer (P2P) cash gang is all about producing actual solutions to everyday problems rather than offering up catchy rhetoric. BCH is working on things political dissidents could possibly employ, such as greater transaction anonymity, P2P exchanges without know-your-customer frictions, and ways to fundraise in a non-custodial manner. Those are significant little steps, but they’re far from cures. They are progressing toward a goal of greater financial freedom for everyone, but we’ve got a long way to go. At least BCH enthusiasts understand that much.

Bitcoin Cash

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DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.