CRYPTOCURRENCYApr 8, 2018Rob Loggia
The Twittersphere was awash with lilliputian glee today as word spread that the original “Bitcoin” account, owned by Roger Ver, had been suspended. Ding-dong, the wicked witch is dead! Hallelujah! And as the bottles were uncorked and the confetti hit the air, millions of cryptocurrency users rejoiced worldwide that Ver would no longer be able to voice his opinion from this particular platform.
In a somewhat melodramatic fashion, Ver issued a statement using his personal Twitter account, lamenting the death of freedom of speech. Given Ver’s well documented libertarian bent, it is difficult to dismiss his critics when they point out that there is no free speech issue here. Twitter is a company and private platform, not a government. No human rights are being violated whatsoever.
Where his critics are being dishonest is by leaving it there. This may not be a free speech issue, but it sure is censorship and it sure contributes to a chilling effect already smothering our society and growing larger every day. That supporters of cryptocurrency could be so stupid as to want to contribute to that simply because they dislike Ver and his message is both startling and upsetting.
But that particular battle is far older and larger than cryptocurrency, and is currently being waged in nearly every ecosystem of thought and practice. There are more acute issues at stake, issues that threaten the present and future of cryptocurrency far more than a chilling effect on expression.
Despite my refusal to join in with the orgy of self-gratification now taking place, I have not been a fan of Ver’s actions or messaging since the Bitcoin Cash fork. I say that as a holder and supporter of BCH. I want BCH to succeed, but not at the expense of Bitcoin Core or any other coin. His constant assaults on Bitcoin have left me gritting my teeth in annoyance, especially as they have been occurring in a larger atmosphere of attack from all sides. The Man is trying everything to take down cryptocurrency and he doesn’t need to be helped along by people claiming to support it.
Ver is far from alone in this transgression, however, so it is difficult to be too hard on him. I also sympathize with his position, as unfashionable as that may be to admit. Even his worst enemies do not deny his contribution to the Bitcoin brand. He toiled tirelessly, working out-off-pocket and with little reward at a time when most users of Bitcoin lived in their parent’s basement. His efforts are a large reason why the Bitcoin brand has the value it does, especially when arguably better cryptocurrencies have already been introduced. It shouldn’t be surprising that his contributions are undervalued, especially to anyone that has seen firsthand the extent to which software developers can elevate their own art above others, diminishing the importance of roles and services that are vital to the success of their precious software code. In the worst cases, they achieve the status of gods in their own minds. Marketing, branding, sales, support, management – all of these people are “stupid” and should not be listened to. Should not have their concerns addressed. Need not even be consulted. I’ve seen it, and not only is it incorrect, it is damned ugly.
While following the pre-fork debate, I could not help but gain the impression that those involved with branding, marketing and mining of Bitcoin had their opinions, beliefs and desires given short shrift by the remainder of the group, which sided with the developers. And I could not help but sniff the characteristic arrogance on the behalf of that faction, the arrogance that comes with the belief that their contributions and perspectives are the only ones that matter. Anyone with an awareness of the actual, real-world importance of these non-code contributions cannot possibly support such a position.
If you had put so much into a brand, an effort, only to be dismissed in such a fashion, how would you feel? Is it any wonder Ver feels entitled to some of that brand value as proceeds of the divorce? Or to admit that regardless of his transgressions, he has been treated shamefully by a community that has benefited greatly from his efforts. It is possible to see and understand all of this, and even to empathize with his position, without agreeing with his methods and subsequent behavior. In truth, however, he has been his own worst enemy. And that is its own punishment.
Let’s also admit that this is only a small piece of a larger problem that is much bigger than Ver. The “arms race” between different cryptocurrency platforms is louder and prouder than ever. Cryptocurrency “leaders” are just as likely, and in some cases more likely, to be seen making a snarky attack on some other coin or leader than they are promoting their own platform in a positive way. And each time both sides jeer and cheer respectively, and each time everyone loses and the community looks worse to potential converts.
If the leaders are bad, the proles are far worse. Dive into any cryptocurrency related Twitter thread of any length, and you’ll be treated to a barrage of invective, trolling and unproductive shit talking. From people that, in the next breath and without blushing, tell us how serious they are about cryptocurrency succeeding. You’d think they would at least spare us that. Part of it is… it’s the Internet. I get it. And competition is fun, sport even, for many individuals. But there is friendly competition, and then there is toxic people spewing vile trash. They are two different things. There are friendly jibes, and then there are insulting, dehumanizing slanders. Again, two different things. And anyone claiming not to be able to tell the difference is not being honest.
People are free to say and do what they want, at least so far as I am concerned. But I am free to point out that they are not being helpful. And short of a cheap, fleeting laugh, they are not providing any value. In the end, they are only helping to slow down adoption and help those that would destroy the whole thing. Thanks gang. Hope the mental stroking was worth it.
For my part, I will continue to push my agenda. I am fortunate because there is no nuance to it, so it is easy to explain. I want cryptocurrency to succeed, and I like all the coins. I may favor some over others, especially with my investment money, but I like them all. And if I can’t find something nice to say about a particular platform, or about what someone else is trying to accomplish, I won’t invest in it, but I also won’t say anything nasty about it or become toxic towards the people involved. While I certainly do not hold myself up as a paragon of virtue, I cannot help but wonder how much further along we'd be if everyone in the cryptosphere would follow this simple philosophy.