How I Fell Down the Bitcoin Rabbit Hole

I’ll be updating this blog with the questions i ask on my journey along with the answers i find.

It all started in November 2020. I had stumbled onto Dustin Walper’s twitter, and learned that he was the CEO of a cryptocurrency exchange. Since he seemed to be a trustworthy and intelligent person, I figured that I would not lose all of my money if i used it.

During November and December, I added in $100 and watched it grow to $112, and then I’d sell it and try to time the market, but usually I’d just lose more money. So I left my newton account alone and forgot about it up until 2021.

January 2021 comes around and I live in Montreal. The Quebec government institutes a curfew with the ostensible purpose of curbing spread. From 8:30 pm to 5:00 am, nobody is allowed outside their residence on pain of a $1000 fine. I am shocked that a government can do this when it’s so clearly arbitrary, disproportionate, and a violation of basic freedom. I learn that governments will do anything to gain them popularity in the polls. I am threatened then as long as most people in society disagree with me.

In March 2021, Balaji Srinivasan does a 3.5 hour long episode with Tim Ferriss on crypto, decentralization, and how to become uncancellable. He blows my mind because he addresses all of the problems that I’ve come to fear from governments. I binge watch every podcast he’s recorded. His vision of the future is hopeful, so I’m on board! Here are a few of his ideas:

  • Western values will now be best protected on the internet, rather than by nation states. What values are those? Freedom of speech, property rights, the Rule of Law, the consent of the governed. Property rights come from the blockchain – you can now exchange private property online! The Rule of Law comes from smart contracts, which execute themselves without the need for a judge or lawyer. Pseudonymity will protect freedom of speech and prevent cancelling. The solution to cancel culture is to disconnect your real life identity from your work identity and your other online identities.
  • 51% democracy vs 100% democracy. Governments today are always coercing someone, even if they are democratically elected. But because people can now trade with each other using cryptocurrencies, they can form communities with each other, and then fix problems in real life together. For example, we could have a shadow government which can organize pot hole fillers to come patch up pot holes on city roads when city officials are too corrupt and bureaucratic to do anything.
  • Founders vs. Inheritors. People in government are incompetent because they’ve never built things from scratch. They are thus not capable of responding to black swans and their systems collapse. They are “inheritors.” However, there are founders too who are competent, and who certainly could respond to black swans. George Washington was someone who built the entire US Army. Someone like a Zuckerberg, Bezos, or Musk is on the same level as Washington. They have legitimacy because they grew the company, not just because they were selected to run it.

I’m now learning that the crypto space is far more vast that I could originally understand. The way I’m learning about it all now is by taking those gameified courses on gitcoin and by interviewing guests on my podcast about cryptocurrency. I hope to get a job as a community manager at a blockchain company too. In general, I learn best by doing and by having skin in the game. One thing which I want to do now is to explore the high interest rates that crypto claims to offer. You can get 10-20% rates by yield farming (what is that exactly), etc. The best way I’ll learn is by actually yield farming. I’ll do it eventually.

Another hurdle I had was understanding why there were so many other coins than Bitcoin and Ethereum.

But my podcast episode with Steve Paolosini gave me a good start of an answer – each token represents a project built on or with blockchain. The coin is basically like the “stock” of the project. Different projects try to do different things. For example, on Stellar, you can turn any traditional currency into a token that you can transfer anywhere in the world in place of the original currency. This is what banks do, except Stellar is decentralized.

My next question: how can you be scammed in crypto? Who can one trust, and how can you tell?

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