Hi, I'm the worst. After umming and ahhing for the better part of a month, I finally committed to investing in cryptocurrency. I bought into Bitcoin at around the $US10,500 valuation mark and I've been refreshing Coindesk ever since like a complete buffoon.
I've gone through just about every stage you'd expect a Bitcoin noob to go through and I am here to talk to you all about that process today.
Here are the six things I've learned so far.
1. People Talk A Lot Of Shit About Bitcoin
I'd like to qualify this point that I also say some really stupid shit about Bitcoin. Everyone does.
But each and every time I do a Google search for Bitcoin a brand new terrible take arises from the ashes like a brain dead zombie hunting down eyeballs. Bitcoin Is A Ponzi Scheme, Bitcoin Will Send Millenials Broke, Bitcoin Is A Bubble And It Will Burst ALL OVER YOUR FACE.
The opposite side of that spectrum is equally as ridiculous: Bitcoin Will Be Worth $US1 Million By 2020, etc.
Best to join me, sitting on the fence, your genitals crushing between the weight of all these powerful takes.
The reality: yes Bitcoin is a bet. Yes, you probably don't want to put your mortgage on that bet. Just invest what you're comfortable losing and (hopefully) reap the benefits of an interesting new technology with the potential to reshape how money works.
2. Buying Bitcoin Is Actually Harder Than You Think
Actually maybe the best word is 'committing'.
Imagine me, 11pm, two hours past my bedtime, asking my wife to take a picture of me with my eyes bloodshot, passport in one hand, and a piece of paper with my signature in the other.
"Uh, what are you doing?"
"Relax darling, now can you nip upstairs and turn on the printer so I can scan my driver's license?"
I mean it's weird. Buying Bitcoin, no matter which exchange you use, is timely, tricky and requires a real leap of faith — particularly if you're a little paranoid about putting your personal information out there. There were plenty of times when I considered closing down the tabs and calling it a day.
3. Storing Cryptocurrency Is Relatively Simple, But Also Scary
I mean it's simple in the way that you transfer it much like any other currency — you key in an address and you hit send. The scary part is the potential to get it wrong.
Quick personal anecdote: I almost sent a sizeable amount of Bitcoin to the wrong address after — no shit — a QR code misread my address by ONE digit. Thank God I triple checked it.
The key here is to do your own reading, really familiarise yourself with the whole process and take it slowly. In the beginning there's a real temptation to rush into things, but it's important to learn the process and learn it with small steps. Buy a small amount. Transfer a small amount to your wallet. Do the little things, find your comfort zone and take it from there.
4. Cryptocurrency Is A Terrifying Rabbit Hole And It's Tempting To Dive Right In
At first you convince yourself you'll buy a set amount of Bitcoin and forget about it. That's step 1.
Step 2 is checking the Bitcoin price every single hour.
Step 126 is getting into arguments on r/btc about the differing benefits of Bitcoin over Bitcoin Cash and debating whether or not you should invest in IOTA over Ripple.
It's a rollercoaster man.
It's a seriously fun topic, with a lot of layers to it. There's a lot going on in the Cryptocurrency space and if you find a good group of people to share information and debate with you'll learn a lot fairly quickly.
5. It's Hard To Stop Talking About Bitcoin And You're Annoying
I have struggled with this. My friends and work colleagues have struggled with this. If I'm being honest, I think there have been subtweets.
But my wife, spare some sympathy for my poor wife who is now being brutalised by my constant ruminations on which cryptocurrencies will fail and which will succeed. Who has to listen to me have the same conversation with every new person who darkens our door ("naysayer bankers don't get it, turkeys don't vote for Christmas!"). I'm sorry wife, but this is who I am now.
6. Buying Bitcoin Is Really A Bit Of A Moral Grey Area
I mean there are the positives right: Bitcoin is built around a technology that decentralises currency and allows you to store value without the involvement of banks and all the strangeness that comes from a financial system that exploits the poor and benefits the rich. Great stuff, right?
Right. But it's not all good news. The nature of Blockchain according to Bitcoin technology isn't that great for the environment considering the incredible amount of energy that's used either for mining or solving the problems required to transfer money across its bloated network.
Bitcoin uses a ridiculous amount of energy to maintain something that's essentially digital, which seems insane when you think about it. It's probably the biggest issue I have with owning Bitcoin, and also the thing I consider most when someone tells me I'm insane for investing in it. If there was a good reason for not investing in Bitcoin, energy consumption would be top of that list.
It could also be the reason why a number of altcoins (Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple) are steadily rising in price in the wake of Bitcoins spike earlier this month.
Anyway, point being. I definitely struggle with the energy consumption issue, and also the fact that mining in any meaningful way depends on incredibly expensive rigs that are out of reach unless you have an insane amount of resources available to you. When Bitcoin is supposed to be a way to transform money in a more democratic fashion, it seems a little unfair.