Taking a Lyft home the other day I got not only a ride but also some financial advice from my driver, Bah: “Buy TRON now, it’s going to go crazy, get lots of it. Trust me, I was just calling my cousin about it.”
The next day I’d bought up large. Cryptocurrency is exploding, no one knows what’s next and there’s no authority on the matter so we’re all taking advice from hype, Instagram, friends and rideshares. What the fuck is going on?
I first got into cryptocurrency about a month ago after a Tinder beau suggested I was sleeping on the investment and a guy at a conference told me his brother bought him a $300 Bitcoin for his 21st birthday. It’s now worth upwards of $10,000 (as of Wednesday January 31 at 6:40 p.m. EST). I jumped in with a $1,000 investment in LiteCoin and Ethereum and doubled my money in a week. I had absolutely no idea what it was or how it worked.
But I liked it, obviously. Knowing what a blockchain was wasn’t going to help me make money, I felt. Investing was as much a game of luck as gambling. Sometimes the less you know, the more rationally you act. Instead I’d take my advice from the chatter around me and hope for the best.
So when one friend told me they thought LiteCoin’s peak was $300 I sold at $300. They’ve turned out to be right, so far. When another told me it was a good day to sell Bitcoin she was right, if only I hadn’t bought so high in the first place. And when my Lyft driver says it’s time to jump into TRON, I jump.
There’s got to be something wrong with me — I’m the basic bitch of cryptocurrency. CoinBase is my pumpkin spice latte. Ethereum is my Ugg boots. But I don’t think I’m alone.
Interest in cryptocurrency is booming — if it’s reached me that means it’s thoroughly mainstream. A survey conducted late last year by Blockchain Capital found 30 percent of millennials would rather own $1,000 Bitcoin than $1,000 government bonds. Almost half (43 percent) of millennial men would rather have the cryptocurrency. Why are millennials feeling cryptocurrency so hard?
It might be something to do with another of the study’s findings: 27 percent of millennials think Bitcoin is more trustworthy than big banks. After a series of financial crashes that have illustrated just how consistently dirty and corrupt the banking industry can be, it’s no wonder almost a third of millennials feel this way. We’re coming of age with Ryan Gosling telling us that bankers purposefully fucked the global economy and Margot Robbie naked in a bath breaking down exactly how they did it. “The mania has caught the zeitgeist of dissatisfaction that is currently sweeping the world,” MoneyWeek columnist Dominic Frisby notes.
I had my money in managed funds for a moment but I didn’t really know what my broker was investing in. Part property, part energy, part bonds. That means nothing to me — I was probably invested in fracking and orangutan-murder and had no idea.* We want control and transparency. We want our investments to pair with our values. We want to stick it to the man. And we want to make shitloads of money, fast.
So far, that’s what’s happening, give or take. I made $1,500 in a week on a couple of cryptocurrencies and I’ve lost on Bitcoin, which has basically gone steadily downhill since I bought it. Plus I’ve started to educate myself on what’s going on in the market. Now I know a little about the blockchain and mining and crypto regulation. If that’s all I gain from this little experiment, so be it, at least I haven’t lined the pockets of some slimy Wall Street banker.
But Frisby and others also warn that the “hordes” of inexperienced investors flooding the market won’t have a clue what to do when the crypto bull becomes a bear. “When liquidity dries up and the tide goes out, that’s the point at which you realise who has been swimming naked.” And that’s me right now — out here in my birthday suit with my wallet open. I just hope I’ll be able to get to shore before someone steals my clothes.
By the way, TRON lost half its value the week after I bought it. Thanks a lot, Bah.
*Mining Bitcoin is disgustingly bad in terms of energy consumption. Some estimate running the Bitcoin network uses up as much energy yearly as a medium-sized country.