I got involved with Bitcoin in 2011 as a means for testing my knowledge and expanding my understanding of monetary theory in a practical application. On day 1, I installed a node client, Bitcoin-Qt, and learned how to mine using my GPU. Roughly twelve hours later while I was sleeping, I discovered a block. My only solo mined block, ever. It was my only solo mined block because I beat the odds in a big way. Even then, GPU mining was becoming more and more difficult. I didn’t know that yet, though, because when I looked at my node software the next day, I wondered who the hell sent me 50.14[…] bitcoins, and how they got my address.
Then I looked up the price of those coins. $14 a piece on Mt Gox, clearly the only exchange that was trustworthy. Hot damn! I mean, should I sell these buggers for a quick profit? Who knew that learning could be so profitable?!
Needless to say, I learned a hell of a lot about more things than I intended to study by getting involved in Bitcoin.
I know what it was like to be involved in Bitcoin before hodl was even a word.
I remember the excitement about alpaca socks.
I bought Butterfly Labs miners and ‘invested’ in GBSE.
And I watched as the Bitcoin I knew became distorted and perverted by ‘experts’ who stole 5 years worth of growth and excitement and brilliance from the world because they didn’t believe in the very thing they decided to spend their time and energy “fixing.”
Eventually, Segwit 2x was canceled, and I’d had it. Bitcoin Cash was the only viable alternative, with a plan to retain the original goals of Bitcoin, to scale on-chain, avoiding boondoggle developer pet projects, and allowing Bitcoin to be what it was meant to be. I voted with my bitcoins.
And then I watched as the debate raged on between Core and Cash, and I realized I knew more than these shmucks on the internet. I stepped out of my dungeon for the first time, and started getting engaged on Twitter. I wrote an article about the economics of the block size limit and posted it on Yours.org, and received a surprisingly good response for the time. It was exciting!
The fact was, I was tired of watching people talking about things they didn’t understand as if they were the almighty gods of social media, so I “got involved in the community.” I started doing exactly what everyone else was doing, the difference from most of them was that I decided that I would use the opportunity to learn with every single encounter, openly and honestly with myself.
I remember many times when I was burned by stupid things I said, when I stepped beyond what I truly knew and was called out on it. Those were my most memorable moments not because they stung (though they did,) but because I spent time thinking about them, and learning what I believe to this day were the “most right” lessons that I was capable of learning from them at the time.
At one point I was even offered an opportunity to do far more in this space by an individual I admired, and it was extremely flattering, as well as nerve wracking. Eventually I decided not to accept the offer, in part because of a sense of impostor syndrome, in part because of a dilemma on a certain principle I hold dear, and in part because my real passions in life lie elsewhere and this would have taken from those pursuits. I believe to this day that I made the correct decision for myself on that front, though I have a suspicion that I disappointed several individuals I hold in high regard.
It’s humbling, thinking back over the past year, to all the things that I did wrong, said wrong, and believed wrong, and all the ways I have been ineffective, and the few times I’ve been effective. I have learned so much about Bitcoin, about economics, about human nature, about culture, about communication, and about myself in my 10k+ tweets which consisted of discussions, debates, occasional trolling, and the sharing of my thoughts.
Now, as we stand here on the eve of the Bitcoin Cash hash war, I cannot help but reflect on what I’ve learned in the past 7 years of my life in Bitcoin, and the last year of public involvement in social media surrounding Bitcoin.
With that in mind, here are, in no possible order of importance, (their being valuable in different, often interdependent, ways,) what I feel are the most valuable lessons I have learned:
- Arrogance is one of the worst traits possible in a person, and the unseen damage caused by a lack of humility far outweighs the visible downsides of such a character flaw.
- There is a major difference between arrogance and confidence, though they can often be difficult to distinguish, especially in people who don’t care about what others think.
- Signaling is, essentially, useless, unless people allow themselves to be manipulated by it. Being manipulated by signaling is destructive and dangerous to the self.
- There is no substitute for doing the work.
- Most people are only interested in the truth that bolsters their preconceptions.
- Most experts aren’t.
- It’s the rare person whose opinion ought to matter to me, and I interact with none of those people on Twitter.
- There is so much more to life than social media.
- I don’t like who I am when debating on Twitter.
That last lesson is one I learned months ago, so I pulled back. I took a week with minimal involvement online. But there was more to learn. More I had to do for myself. I had to start learning self-control. I had to learn what made me tick on a more fundamental level, and find ways to overcome my failure points. Like any other set of skills, practice is necessary to develop one’s proficiency, and I had everything I needed to start practicing the skills that would make me a better person, a more effective communicator, and, long term, a more rounded individual. I willfully put myself into positions where I would be tempted to respond in certain ways. I poked and prodded certain individuals to learn from the experience of interacting with them. And I never lied, never willfully spread falsehoods. Sarcasm, on the other hand…
While I have by no means finished practicing these skills, I have come far enough that I feel satisfied that my time in the light has been well spent on the whole, and I feel that I am done with this part of my life.
What better time to step out of the social media “community” and back into my dungeon than when “Proof of Social Media” is about to be subjected to the ultimate test?
I will not be deleting my account, though I will be going ‘private’ sometime in the next few days through the protected mode on Twitter. I will still use Twitter to stay updated with news in this space, and to message with individuals as conversations arise. Until I go private, I’m just going to have some fun, and maybe have a few real conversations with some people online, and off.
You may see me again from time to time, whether in the capacity of a Bitcoin talking head on my own posts once more, or in another capacity if I choose to use my account for other purposes.
Thank you to everyone for providing me with opportunities to learn, and to be a part of helping others to learn. It has been an absolute pleasure (most of the time.)
Bitcoin is Cash, and Bitcoin Cash is for everyone.
-- Matthew Zietzke
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