This is an opinion piece by Tim Niemeyer, a bitcoiner since about 2018 and the host of the Lincolnland Bitcoin Meetup in Springfield, Illinois.
Amidst the carnage of the FTX drama, a moment of clarity lit up the Twittersphere. Michael Saylor’s words were a signal of the uproar from the dysfunctional train wreck known insincerely as “crypto.” Before we can really appreciate his ideas, we need to first think about what breaks this relationship, or what causes a toxic relationship in the context of couples therapy.
While many in the cryptocurrency industry happily go about their lives with a positive outlook on their relationship with money (trust, commitment, support, etc.), they ignore the warning signs that their relationship is healthy. Of course, all good relationships have their ups and downs. Disagreements happen, but overall, you share common goals and trust the other to have your best interests at heart. There is a certain expectation that your partner will support you, communicate openly and honestly, and refrain from controlling behavior. In this way, life is free and you are generally able to flourish.
What if one party does not have your best interests at heart? What if they are dishonest? What if there is an example of disrespect? What if they ignore your needs? Sure, you may be hoping for a change, but you still feel exhausted, stressed, anxious, or depressed. Eventually, you want to quit. Your need for a positive, healthy relationship exceeds the comfort of a known, current relationship. The first step is to admit that there is a problem. You need to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
When it comes to our relationship with money, support can be provided in many ways. One way we support each other is by trusting that our partner has our best interests at heart. A big problem with the cryptocurrency sphere (defined here as anything but Bitcoin) is that it is still largely based on expectations of trust. Whether it’s FTX, Celsius, LUNA, or the countless other scams and Ponzis woven into the fabric of the cryptocurrency industry, it’s clear that having centralized entities controlling your value mistakenly requires you to trust tailors and their incentives. It’s like a drop in trust; an exercise in which a person allows themselves to fall without trying to stop them, relying on their friend(s) to catch them. How many times do you let yourself get knocked down before you lose faith?
These recent failures in cryptocurrency continue to highlight the dishonesty in its DNA. Investors are lulled into a false sense of security in the relationship; is a dishonest form of communication based on opacity and the highly leveraged nature of exchanges. Allowing people to control money allows controlling behaviors to be codified into the system, which leads to increased dissatisfaction in the relationship… Relationships become strained when the toxic party puts their needs before yours. Some CEOs’ needs often encourage them to use the trust of customers to make a profit. This kind of display of negative financial behavior is becoming all too common in the cryptocurrency industry (again, not just bitcoin businesses). At some point, as my father used to say, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Steps to fix a toxic relationship
The first step is to accept responsibility. Not because you are the cause of the situation, but because you have recognized the situation you are in and started to defend yourself. This can be done by investing in yourself. In the context of this article, that investment is an education in Bitcoin, as well as understanding the unintended consequences of adopting the “digital fiat” mindset that exists in the altcoin and centralized exchange industries. Once we move from blaming to understanding, we allow ourselves to begin to heal. The pain from recent events will linger for a while, but it is our duty to move forward with compassion, not dwell on the past. The next step on the road to recovery is allowing yourself to be vulnerable again. This can be achieved by sharing your love with others; calmly and clearly explaining the benefits of bitcoin to friends and family, proof of self-control and reserves.
People recovering from a toxic relationship can benefit from finding support. According to the author, Bitcoiners should have that support structure. Surprisingly, many Bitcoiners are known as toxic when they try to highlight the toxicity inherent in the ecosystem. That being said, “I told you so” does not help the healing process. This is the moment when we must step up and lead with compassion. We must make room in our hearts and allow time for others to heal and change.
There will be many who do not recover from a toxic relationship of this magnitude. While we can continue to learn from a humble place, we must remember, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Everyone will eventually heal in their own way at their own pace. Some may never learn. We’ve probably all had a friend who has gone from one toxic relationship to another. As much as you want to help, they have to choose to help themselves first. Additionally, some people will continue to “Tinder around” with unhealthy cryptocurrency relationships. This is their prerogative. If a friend wants to be part of the hookup culture, that’s on them. They have to deal with the consequences of STDs and the like.
Regardless of the actions of specific exchanges or cryptocurrency in general, we must continue to positively support the benefits of Bitcoin. Tell them how truth is born out of insecurity. Demonstrate how decentralization actually leads to pure democracy. Illustrate how immutability and permissionless systems enable a free-flowing, cooperative society. Michael Saylor acutely recognized the toxicity we allow to spread through our perceived relationship with crypto. For ourselves, our friends and family, and ultimately society to flourish, we must choose to move toward the bitcoin standard.
This is a guest post Tim Niemeyer. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.