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Op Ed: Pitching Bitcoin During the Holidays

The HODLdays are a time for friends and gift-giving, but as good Bitcoiners, we already know that the best gift of all is Bitcoin.

Brekkie von Bitcoin
Brekkie von Bitcoin
Dec 24, 2020December 24, 202016 min read16 minutes read

Origi­nally Published in Bitcoin Magazine, December 24th, 2019

It’s that time of year again! When you can’t decide whether to get a pumpkin spice or eggnog-flavored latte, your local mall reeks of cinnamon, pine needles, and dirty fiat money. The HODLdays are a time for friends, family, and gift-giving, but as good Bitcoiners, we already know that the best gift is Bitcoin. But how do you convince your friends and family to go down the Bitcoin rabbit — uh, reindeer hole? 

The Bitcoin space has matured so much in the last few years, and as a result, giving Bitcoin is easier than ever. It used to be diffi­cult to provide Bitcoin to folks without worrying that they’d lose their private keys or, worse … sell the BTC for a central­ized shitcoin! I could name-drop some of those shitcoins now, but in the spirit of the holidays… actually, screw it. XRP. That’s what I meant to write. I said it. Take that, Brad Garlinghouse!

Anyhow, it used to be diffi­cult to give Bitcoin because of the steep learning curve. It will definitely still take time for your recip­i­ents to learn about key manage­ment or the value of self-sover­eignty, but educa­tional resources have improved drasti­cally. There are even novel options like GiveBit­coin that time locks the BTC and provides educa­tion. If you want a more hands-on approach, you can always use a paper wallet or help your recip­ient set up their first hardware wallet.

But there’s still the problem of convincing your friends and family that Bitcoin matters. I think we’ve reached a turning point, though. As “The Bitcoin guy, ” at all the holiday parties (or any event for that matter), I’ve noticed that where people didn’t want to know about Bitcoin before, lately they’ve been asking me about it completely unprompted, almost to the point of me being sick of it. Sometimes I just want to crush some eggnogs in peace, ya know? 

But Bitcoin DOES matter, and if someone is genuinely curious and wants to learn, how can you not take the time to help them?

KYA: Know Your Audience

Not everyone is recep­tive, though, and some folks may even ask you about Bitcoin just so they can poke fun at it. Honey badgers don’t care about these scrooges, but remember that every single conver­sa­tion about Bitcoin comes with the poten­tial to change some hearts and minds. In order to do that, though, you have to be ready.

You have to under­stand Bitcoin well enough to defend against the FUD, and you can’t just talk to someone and tell them why YOU think Bitcoin matters. You must know your audience and tell them why THEY should think Bitcoin matters. You need to get on their level and remember what it was like before you had your Bitcoin epiphany.

To aid you in your efforts, let’s imagine that you’ve just walked into your family’s annual holiday party…

The Wall Street Fat Cat

Pitching Bitcoin: Wall Street

Oh no. There’s Uncle Jamie, the Wall Street fat cat.

Why does he always wear that suit?

And does he really think that red tie makes him seem more powerful? 

Life is good for Fat Cat Uncle Jamie. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and maybe he still does, but now he tells others what to do and how to do it. Heck, he might even use his fat-cat money to influ­ence politi­cians. Why on earth would Uncle Jamie care about Bitcoin when his inter­ests are so aligned with the legacy system? 

Pitching Bitcoin to folks like this may be challenging, but several arguments might catch their atten­tion. The first of these is Bitcoin’s poten­tial as a safe haven asset. Bitcoin is demon­strating more and more that it is uncor­re­lated to tradi­tional assets. With the advent of negative interest rates and the general senti­ment of the world economy deteri­o­rating by the day, bitcoin is starting to look pretty attractive. 

It doesn’t hurt that Fat Cat Uncle Jamie likely has plenty of money to burn and, as a result, has a higher risk toler­ance than most. Getting a fat cat to go full bitcoin anarchist is probably out of the question, but to echo Anthony Pompliano, the goal here should be to get them off zero. 

Appeal to their bottom line, and you can’t go wrong. 

Orange coin good. Number go up. And maybe wait till Uncle Jamie has had a few spiked eggnogs before pitching him on Bitcoin…

The Millennial Cousin

Pitching Bitcoin Millennial

Look over there! It’s Cousin Savannah! This one should be pretty easy. Millen­nials like Savannah already make up a large portion of the Bitcoiner commu­nity. 

And if you look at what drives them, this should come as no surprise. Millen­nials may have a high time prefer­ence, but they also reject societal norms and hate being told what to do. They’ve lost faith in their govern­ments and insti­tu­tions, and Bitcoin may just be the answer they didn’t know they were looking for.

Starting off with the sound money argument isn’t always recom­mended, but for Millen­nials who lived through the 2008 finan­cial crisis and are still dealing with student loans and a less-than-favor­able job market, this argument may just work. 

Millen­nials like Cousin Savannah are also well suited for the environ­mental argument. Bitcoin consumes a lot of energy but for good reason. Energy is the digital fortress that protects Bitcoin. And as Bitcoiners, we know that Bitcoin actually encour­ages the growth and devel­op­ment of renew­able energy sources, osten­sibly by fixing the root problem of destruc­tive consump­tion, i.e., easy money. Parker Lewis writes that Bitcoin Does Not Waste Energy,” and for the ultimate energy-FUD-dispelling article, see PoW is Efficient by Dan Held

Finally, if Cousin Savannah is too busy thinking about her college loans to care about the environ­ment, you can always appeal to her greed. Bitcoin maybe 10 years old, but things are just getting started. Even the most conser­v­a­tive models point to the poten­tial for asymmetric returns, the likes of which the world has never seen. Use that to your advan­tage. Cousin Savannah already thinks she’ll be working long past the current age of retire­ment.

Bitcoin fixes this. 

Great-Uncle Goldbug

After catching up with Cousin Savannah, you look over to see Great-Uncle John the Goldbug beckoning you over. Here we go again … Just like last year, he’s probably going to regale you with all of his latest doomsday prepa­ra­tions. But wait!

This year, you’re going to fire back and teach him about Bitcoin!

Oh, the gold bugs. Peter Schiff aside, gold bugs like Great-Uncle John should be our best friends. 

So why aren’t they?

Goldbugs already under­stand the princi­ples of scarcity and sound money, but they tend to be from an older gener­a­tion that isn’t as comfort­able with the idea of a natively digital asset. 

This is where you come in. 

To start with, maybe even get yourself one of these ugly Bitcoin sweaters to help lead you into the conver­sa­tion. And don’t be pushy. Engage with Great-Uncle John in an intel­li­gent debate. Ask him why he is so bullish on gold. Then you can start to bring up some of gold’s drawbacks, such as its low salability across space, the high costs associ­ated with securing and assaying it, and the diffi­culty in dividing it into usable amounts. 

But the key here is not to talk negatively about gold’s drawbacks but rather to speak positively about how Bitcoin solves these drawbacks. And it wouldn’t hurt to remind Great-Uncle John that the United States central­ized gold when they made buying, selling, and owning gold a criminal offence in 1933. U.S. citizens couldn’t freely transact in the shiny, yellow metal again until 1975. Once again, Bitcoin fixes this.

The Foreign Exchange Student

Pitching Bitcoin Foreign Exchange

Who’s the new girl? 

Oh, right, Aunt Nancy is hosting a foreign exchange student from Venezuela. Well, this should be interesting…

You grab some eggnogs and go over and intro­duce yourself to Manuela. She seems pretty cool, and she’s even heard of Bitcoin. She has some friends back home who are using it to help them get by, but she doesn’t under­stand what it’s all about or how to use it herself. What a perfect oppor­tu­nity here to teach Manuela how Bitcoin can act as a hedge against the insta­bility she knows all too well! 

Ask her about the hardships she’s faced back home. Speak to her on a personal level. Bitcoin doesn’t fix every­thing directly, but it can certainly help. Tell Manuela how, when properly secured, Bitcoin can’t be confis­cated or censored. It’s a neutral currency that no govern­ment can control. Tell her about the 21 million BTC hard cap and known supply schedule. Tell her how Bitcoin’s monetary policy is secured by code and not by greed-prone humans like Maduro. Orange coin good. 

It’s impor­tant to note though if you’re sipping eggnog and singing carols with someone like Manuela (and you’re not doing so in Venezuela), these folks are probably doing OK. They’re not dealing with hyper­in­fla­tion directly, but they likely have family and friends who might benefit from Bitcoin. I highly recom­mend reading this article from Matt Ahlborg to better your under­standing of how some people are using Bitcoin and gift cards to send remittances.

The Gen‑Z Cousin

Pitching Bitcoin Gen-Z

Oh wow! Cousin Jenny is growing up so fast! And appar­ently, she has over a million followers on TikTok now? 

What the heck is TikTok anyway? 

Whatever, not impor­tant. Time to shill some Bitcoin! 

According to The Econo­mist“Gener­a­tion Z is stressed, depressed, and exam-obsessed.” Gen-Zers like Cousin Jenny are similar to their Millen­nial forebears, but they’re the first gener­a­tion to grow up in a fully digital world. They’re also the first gener­a­tion to have been born after 9⁄11, and they’ve never known a world without war. But these delicate Christmas snowflakes are tougher than they look, and they’re resolved to change the world for the better. 

If you can manage to pry the phone out of their hands and get them to look you in the eye for a conver­sa­tion, Gen-Zers like Cousin Jenny should be highly recep­tive to what Bitcoin is all about. As internet natives, Gen-Zers under­stand the concept of digital money better than any of us. Turns out Cousin Jenny is also an avid Fortnite player, so you can explain to her that Bitcoin is just like V‑bucks, except there’s no one control­ling where and when you can spend them. 

Then you remember that Cousin Jenny is always talking about how she wants to change the world and make it a better place, so you tell her all about Bitcoin’s poten­tial to effect positive change in the world. Gen-Zers may not be thinking about their retire­ment yet, but they are thinking about all the injus­tice in the world. With its sound money princi­ples, Bitcoin can take away the power of the fiat printing press, thus making the prospect of never-ending war far less likely. 

And just like Millen­nials, perhaps more so, Cousin Jenny and the rest of Gen‑Z care passion­ately about the environ­ment. Use the same arguments as mentioned in the section on Millen­nials. Bitcoin consumes a lot of energy, but focus on how it’s all for a good reason. 

Worried about the environ­ment? Bitcoin fixes this.

Cousin Jenny finally looks up from her phone. She informs you that she just made you go viral on TikTok. Oh, and, to your amaze­ment, she already knows all about Bitcoin…

Grandpa, the Baby Boomer

Pitching Bitcoin Grandpa Boomer

Next, you go in for a strong handshake with Grandpa Russell, the baby boomer.

This is gonna be tough. While baby boomers like Grandpa Russell may have ushered in a great societal change in their youth, they have since become a much more conser­v­a­tive group of people. Like Grandpa Russell, many baby boomers were hippies who thought they could change the world. When that didn’t come to pass, they became disil­lu­sioned and regretful, or worse, became standard-bearers for the polit­ical and economic status quo. These folks will spend months planning their extrav­a­gant Christmas lights and then flippantly say that Bitcoin is wasteful.

But not all boomers are alike, and this is where knowing your audience is key. Sit down with Grandpa Russell and talk to him. Ask him about what it was like living through various finan­cial crises, the Vietnam and Cold War, and what it’s been like seeing the rise of Big Govern­ment. If you can tap into those memories and get him to remember how he felt back then, you might be able to make him see that with Bitcoin, positive societal change is still possible.

Turns out that Grandpa Russell doesn’t have any imagi­na­tion whatso­ever, and he flat out refuses to think back to the days of his youth. Not to worry!

There is always the savings argument. After the 2008 finan­cial crisis, Grandpa Russell was forced to continue working and delay his retire­ment for a few more years. Like him, many boomers are still working, trying desper­ately to grow their retire­ment funds and praying that their pensions will be a reality when the time comes. These folks may be risk averse when it comes to their future plans, but in a world where pension funds are drying up, Bitcoin may just fill the gap. Talk to people like Grandpa Russell about Bitcoin’s poten­tial for asymmetric returns. Urge them to set up recurring buys each week, even if it’s just a small amount.

Number go up.

The Evangelical Cousin

Uh oh. It’s Cousin Clyde. After living it up in college, drinking away the limited number of brain cells he had to begin with, Cousin Clyde was BORN AGAIN, HALLELUJAH! He’s probably going to try to convince you to attend Midnight Mass like he always does. You could decline like you always do — or maybe you agree to go, provided he listens to your Bitcoin pitch?

“And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revela­tion 13:16 — 17 KJV)

Whether religious or not, the Bible contains some oddly prescient passages. The one above, from the Book of Revela­tion, could be inter­preted to predict the govern­ment and tech company driven panop­ticon that is a distinct possi­bility in our near future. Whether it’s China’s social credit system or the ever-growing invasion of privacy by compa­nies like Google and Facebook, if we don’t act to protect our privacy, there won’t be any privacy left to protect. Bitcoin fixes this. 

To be fair, Bitcoin will hopefully fix this. Bitcoin is currently pseudo­ny­mous, CoinJoining methods aren’t perfected yet, and there are various methods of linking bitcoin trans­ac­tions to careless or ignorant users. But privacy is a major concern for Bitcoin devel­opers and many of us Bitcoiners are hopeful that devel­op­ments like the Light­ning Network, Taproot, and Schnorr signa­tures will help to bring us the privacy we so desper­ately need. Santa Claus will somehow always be able to stalk us and know whether we’ve been naughty or nice, but the lack of privacy we have seemingly welcomed with open arms isn’t helping.

But back to Satosh— I mean, Jesus. When pitching Bitcoin to devout Chris­tians like Cousin Clyde, it’s best to appeal to their concern for their fellow humans. 

What better time to do this than during the holidays? 

Remind Cousin Clyde about the panop­ticon that is emerging and tell him how Bitcoin has the poten­tial to return our privacy back to us. Tell him about its sound money charac­ter­is­tics and how, with a Bitcoin standard, govern­ments would no longer be able to inflate away the savings of the poor, nor would they be able to continue printing money to fund violent wars overseas. Violence and inequality may be on the rise, but Bitcoin fixes this. 

Charity is also a huge part of Cousin Clyde’s life, so definitely urge him to set up a recurring buy plan with Swan into Bitcoin. If numbers go up, so does Bitcoin’s purchasing and donation power. You could even point him to the BitGive Founda­tion, an American nonprofit organi­za­tion that solicits bitcoin donations for use in chari­table causes.

Your Jewish Great-Grandma

Pitching Bitcoin Jewish Grandma

Oi vey.

It’s the moment you’ve been dreading. You’ve had some eggnog, so that’s good, but now Great-Grandma Ruth is calling you from Florida to wish you a happy Chanukah. For some reason, you never remember to call Great-Grandma Ruth. Even when you do call her, it’s never often enough. Not to mention, she always wants to know why you’re not married yet and when you’ll give your mother some grand­chil­dren. What is that horrible guilt you’re feeling for no apparent reason?

As mentioned in the goldbugs section, some older folks find new forms of technology hard to keep up with. But that doesn’t mean they can’t under­stand the need for a decen­tral­ized, censor­ship-resis­tant sound money. You just have to talk to them in a way that resonates. 

This pitch is catered to Great-Grandma Ruth, who comes from the Jewish side of the family, but it can just as easily be used for anyone who has lived through great tragedy, societal upheaval, a diaspora, and/or hyper­in­fla­tion and govern­ment confis­ca­tion of wealth. 

How many people have had to escape their home countries in the middle of the night with nothing but clothing on their backs? 

By creating a brain wallet and memorizing a mnemonic recovery, or seed phrase, it’s possible to escape in the middle of the night with the clothes on your back and the entirety of your wealth. No bills, jewels, or gold to hide from would-be confis­ca­tors. Bitcoin fixes this.

The Central Banker Party Crasher

Pitching Bitcoin Central Banker

Well, crap. Your Aunt Nancy has a new boy toy, Jerome, and he wants to wish you happy holidays, too even though you’ve never met the guy before. And it turns out he used to work for the Federal Reserve. Of course, he did.

Is it even worth trying to talk to this putz about Bitcoin?

The gospel of Keynes is strong with central bankers. They have bailouts in their blood. If you and Jerome happen to end up talking about Bitcoin, perhaps it would be best to simply comment on how inter­esting it is that we are living in a time with actively competing monetary systems. Then smile, back away slowly, and stack some more sats…

Thank you all for reading, and I hope you found this amusing and hopefully a little helpful. And I hope you have a joyous HODLday season! — Brekkie

Brekkie von Bitcoin

Brekkie von Bitcoin

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