While listening to a conversation on Café Bitcoin, I heard an argument that bitcoin is only for the knowledgeable to hodl—meaning only those with a deep understanding of all the Bitcoin’s complexities deserve to use and hold it. (In the same breath they will speak on how they used to day-trade bitcoin and buy alt-coins…)
This exclusivity can deter newcomers and potentially discourage them from engaging with Bitcoin and exploring the Bitcoin space. To understand why this perspective is problematic we have to look at the implications.
To Hodl or not to Hodl: The Problematic Narrative
The thought that Bitcoin is only for the all-knowing implies a division within the community. It creates an environment where newcomers may feel unwelcome, which was one of my initial fears about jumping into the space. Bitcoin’s promise of financial sovereignty shouldn’t be limited to those you deem fit.
This perspective goes against everything Bitcoin stands for. Bitcoin was created to enable anyone, regardless of their technical background, to be in control of their money. Your financial decisions should be yours alone, free from any third-party influence.
Bitcoin is For Everyone, Regardless of Knowledge
As Bitcoin grows, people are going to use it regardless of how you feel about it, and regardless of their education level. Users do not need to understand every technical aspect of Bitcoin in order to benefit from it.
Just as millions of people use electricity without understanding how it is generated and distributed, or drive a car without understanding how an internal combustion engine works… I am currently writing this article on my phone, with no understanding of the process happening beneath the surface. This blend of familiarity and ignorance is the reality of our daily life. We enjoy the benefit of these technologies, often without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes.
The Importance of Education
While all that technical knowledge is not a prerequisite for Bitcoin, of course taking the time to educate yourself about it is important. I am learning every day along the way, as much as I can. There is a risk of loss if someone doesn’t quite understand what they hold. Self sovereignty is an aspect of Bitcoin that draws people in due to the discontent with traditional fiat fuckery.
Bitcoin provides the opportunity for you to be your own bank, which comes with responsibilities. Just like you wouldn’t drive a car without understanding basic traffic laws, you also shouldn’t convert all your fiat into this magic internet money without some degree of knowledge.
The good news is that there are user-friendly bitcoin wallets like BlueWallet (phone friendly) and Sparrow (desktop friendly) available. They are non-custodial wallets that ensure you are the only owner of your bitcoin, and they are designed to be simple and secure.
They eliminate the complex aspects, while giving you a safe and convenient way to store your bitcoin. There also are excellent educational content online, like “BTC Sessions” and “Café Bitcoin” who are constantly putting out free tutorials and speeches on this topic and everything else Bitcoin.
Community; Bridging the Knowledge Gap
The Bitcoin community is one of the best resources for learning about Bitcoin. If we alienate people, we cut them off from a wealth of knowledge. Being in an environment where people can learn from each other, engage in discussions, see real-time developments, and advocate for everything that Bitcoin stands for, would be an excellent start for beginners. It’s the connections you make and the camaraderie you feel that makes the learning journey more rewarding.
A supportive and welcoming community is one of the best features of Bitcoin. Telling someone they lack knowledge so they don’t deserve Bitcoin is antithetical to being part of an open-source community. Bitcoiners have a responsibility to serve as good ambassadors and facilitate education as people enter the space, irrespective of where someone might be on their learning journey. Being welcomed with open arms was a powerful experience for me and I don’t want other people to miss out on that.
Broadening the Perspective
Bitcoin is not an exclusive club for the technologically inclined. It’s a financial revolution, created to take money out of the hands of third parties, and it invites people from all backgrounds to participate in its open-source community. That same open-source community is what finally convinced me to dive in.
Just as you don’t need to be an electrical engineer to use electricity or a mechanic to drive a car, you don’t need to be a bitcoinologist to hodl bitcoin. Bitcoin offers financial sovereignty, but with great power comes great responsibility. A willingness to learn and educate yourself is obviously encouraged, and sometimes people just need a little positive encouragement to get there. Bitcoin is for everyone, that’s the point of Bitcoin.