If you’re looking for more proof of the gap of comprehension between “normies” and crypto fanatics, look no further than the results of a Deutsche Bank survey of 2,000 retail clients last week.
The most striking result wasn’t even that a third of respondents saw bitcoin below $20,000 by year end. That’s less than half its current price, and well shy of Anthony Scaramucci’s $170,000 price target, which, like other bullish predictions, sees ETF-spurred demand running up against thinner supply after the next “halving” this April.
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No, what jumped out at me was the answer to a question about Bitcon’s survivability: more people said Bitcoin will disappear in the coming years than those who believed it would stick around.
Knowing my readership, I’m sure more than a few of you are shaking your heads right now, as you contemplate the return of the “Bitcoin is dead” meme. As this famous tracker of press reports predicting Bitcoin’s demise cheekily points out, Bitcoin has died 475 times since 2010.
But, really, the joke is on us. After all this time, after so many revivals proving the naysayers wrong, and despite a 13-year track record that makes it the best investment of the post-financial crisis era, that people still think Bitcoin will soon go away represents a massive failure of outreach and communication for this industry. We have not explained what this thing is – not well enough for Joe Six-Pack to understand.
I’m as guilty as the next person in this. Because it’s easy to feel derision and annoyance at this lack of understanding, an attitude that makes it harder to earn Joe’s confidence and help him get head around this complicated, unfamiliar concept.
Here’s the retort I instinctively thought of when I read the Deutsche survey results: Oh really, people! Bitcoin is going to die this year? How exactly will that happen? Who is going to shut it down? There’s no person or company with a kill switch for Bitcoin’s open-source codebase; so you’re suggesting it will happen organically, via the collective actions of everyone involved in it? You think every single one of the tens of millions of people who’ve invested time and effort into it – the miners, the developers, the investors, the users – none of whom has any way of coordinating with each other – is going to simultaneously walk away from it? Okaaaaay…
One reason the Bitcoin-is-dead prediction is so galling is because it is explicitly contradicted by the one, incontrovertible feature that represents Bitcoin’s core value proposition: that it cannot be shut down.
In a world where everything else can be commandeered by a government, a bank, an internet platform or a hacker, unstoppability is a powerful idea. We have an incredible invention in our midst: an immutable, math-based system for tracking our conveyances of value with each other, predictably ticking over a new block of records every ten minutes in full defiance of interference or censorship by anyone. People really should marvel at it.
But most don’t. Joe Six-Pack is not impressed.
That might be because it’s too abstract an idea. What is the tangible benefit to him? He has dollars and they work, more or less. While he might not be happy with his government, he accepts its monetary system. To ponder the bigger question of how a censorship-resistant, depoliticized form of value exchange can underpin the sovereignty of human beings on a global scale that transcends nation-states’ systems of dependency is just not meaningful to his day-to-day existence.
What Joe Six-Pack needs is to trust in something. And, sadly, he doesn’t get that from the crypto community.
If someone is selling him something he doesn’t understand, Joe will hold that person to a higher standard before he trusts them. And when the behavior of people associated with that thing confirms his biases, he will conclude that they – and the thing they are selling – cannot be trusted.
All of the noise, the bravado, the “to the moon” and “have fun staying poor” memes, the bling, the obsessiveness… whether justified or not, it just makes it so much harder for Joe to believe in Bitcoin.
We need simple, sympathetic messages.
Edited by Benjamin Schiller.