Oakland, California

Tulip Mania

I’ve long considered everything related to the blockchain to be a poison but I’ve tried to keep an open mind as much as possible. I’ve never played with the technology, never bought a coin, never owned an NFT.

But you really don’t need to know how a scam works to know that it’s a scam.

One evening many years ago, I went to dinner with a friend of a friend and he excitedly bragged about betting his life savings on bitcoin and ethereum. I recognized that gleam in his eyes well—a look I had learned to spot from childhood—where a man was gloating in front of me, boasting about this vast fortune that was roaring towards him from somewhere out there on the horizon.

Everything he said was horseshit and it was obvious from this gleam in his eyes. He told me that the blockchain was the future of finance, bitcoin would be the bedrock of our economy, and not only that but he would become a millionaire within the next six months.

I’ve only studied a few economics classes but I knew then that those two things cannot be true at the same time. We can’t be building the foundations of our economy with this new financial model whilst also expecting to come out on top of this speculative tulip mania as techno-wizard millionaires. That was obvious to me then and it’s more than obvious after years of folks talking about how valuable the blockchain is with nothing but a runaway bubble and an ecological disaster to show for it.

I sort of pitied this guy, in a way. Sure he was going to be richer than I ever will be, that much was certain. But the way he talked about money, the way he imagined himself on top of people, crunching their poor bones beneath him, the way he saw himself as the master of this vast ponzi scheme—one that only he knew how to navigate...it was pitiable, cowardly, short-sighted. I knew I had to get away from it all at light-speed.

In his vision of the world he didn’t need to create anything brilliant or heartwarming, needn’t build anything of any real value. There was no magic in this vision, and no wonder.

All he saw was a pyramid and his own place within it.

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