As someone who considers themselves a builder and a little more than a crypto enthusiast, it is awes me when I hear others speak of the promise of a digital utopia where decentralized finance and organizations have managed to win the hearts and minds of society’s masses while demonstrating a truly ubiquitous level of impenetrable security and democracy to offer us a world free from the shackles of traditional financial systems. To many today still though, these promises sound almost too good to be true.
Why is this so hard to believe?
The first challenge I think is just the magnitude of such an audacious vision of a day where traditional financial and governance systems, having failed to evolve in step with their decentralised counterparts, have been made redundant in modern society. Such an audacious vision requires audacious projects to seed the ecosystem, and as such the propositions of many crypto projects are quite frankly, revolutionary. Such a seismic shift that affects so many at so many touchpoints would naturally breed a healthy level of skepticism.
A little more fuel to this fire is actually the not insignifiant numbers of the crypto community themselves who become fervently passionate once they encounter their “aha” moment and become a little blinded with enthusiasm as they seek to share their “eureka!” insights with others. Outsiders might see their arguments overshadowing objective, logical thinking, and discount it prematurely for the cultish vibe they feel from their once mainstream thinking peers.
It hasn’t helped that there’s been a history of hiccups inside crypto as well. Like anything groundbreaking, there would be an attraction for deviants seeking to scam others through misrepresentation to create projects and mass market them as perfectly aligned to the fundamentals of this new promise crypto and blockchain offers. They come with the knowledge of, or learn quickly how to use, the fog of doubt and fear of missing out tactics commonly used by any confidence artist, and when they’ve absconded or been found out, it sadly then leaves the reputation of every other well intentioned project tarnished from the get-go.
Sadly these despicable lot also don’t help get empathy from others to understand that the natural order of new industry startups would be for many failed ventures to emerge, even with the right thinking or motivated teams there building and participating in this new sector. However amongst these entrepreneurial lot also exist the foundations for the diamond unicorn startups that persist, harden and hone their product offerings in the face of every incoming challenge and thrive to show true value and longevity to become the eventual “blue-chips” of the sector.
When widely reported, the history of hiccups for the new sector often feed into the apprehension that many feel who have not but are considering diving into crypto, despite the awesome progress of the blue-chips that emerge.
The Learning Curve of Crypto
Entering the crypto realm still feels like stepping into quicksand, and the reputation of losses incurred that are widely reported in media does leave unaddressed the panic of one misstep possibly costing one dearly. Crypto communities themselves have sometimes appeared insular and tribal. The power of individualism in this sector is such a strength but can also be a sore spot. There is no one, true “bible” of getting started for all to follow. We are very much a socially driven community, and newcomers seeking answers to questions from others may get very opinionated responses.
These may not alleviate doubts immediately, and indeed can sometimes invite hostility as amongst the sector there are maximalists who treat such curiousity driven queries with less than elegant understanding or acceptance. This is unfortunate as these maximalists can also be the subject matter experts holding the keys to others grasping the concepts behind crypto. Sometimes there’s no avoiding a bit of a deep dive into complex technology, and without this understanding assessing the validatity of a project or idea becomes challenging. No one likes feeling out of their depth, and if we’re trying to on board the next billion users to crypto, we have to learn to do better here.
Outside of the technical though, we still face the challenges of extreme volatility inside the crypto markets when it comes to pricing mechanisms, which some may say is actually a feature not a bug of how efficient markets should work. Both a draw and a deterrent to new users, the stories of overnight millionaires can be as captivating as those of lottery winners, however similarly the stories of devastating losses cannot be ignored as a stark warning of what a risky game of investment this really can be for both the uninformed and those who seem informed.
Navigating the Balance Between Caution and Curiousity
“Does it bring you joy?” by Marie Kondo could be seen as being applied when the allure of cryptocurrencies and the many projects whose ambituous goals and potential remains undeniable overwhelms the need for cautious skepticism and informative decision making strategies. In finding the footing for the next billion users to join the crypto community, some key guidances might then be taken as
Educate before you dive into projects with your hard-earned savings or valuable time. There are multiple opinions and multiple resources outside of direct conversations. Podcasts and online courses abound that cater to the crypto novice. While I’ll happily engage on X (formerly Twitter) if asked in DMs, I’ve purposefully avoided mentioning any explicitly here, as one maxim I always give here is “Do Your Own Research”
Always seek to engage constructively. Tribalism exists, and will continue to so long as we have true believers amongst us, but there are also many in the community who welcome healthy dialogue and debate. Identifying these individuals, seeking them out, asking questions and remaining curious and brave enough to pursue follow up answers when it doesn’t make sense yet is the key to building your own understanding
Manage your risk. As with any investment, never put in any more than you can afford to lose. Approaching crypto with a balanced perspective can be tough, especially in the hyper-excited moments of a bull market when no one seems to lose and equivalently so in the hyper-skeptical moments of a bear market when no one seems to win. Seek sufficient balance in information and opinions absorbed when formulating your own to appreciate the innovation while safeguarding against potential pitfalls of overly allocating capital to a single investment.
The world of crypto can seem too good to be true, it can seem beyond the scope of mere-mortal understanding and daunting even to an educated user. With the right approach and mindset though, one can navigate it successfully, and in doing so reap the rewards of this new digital frontier.