Afraid of the dark: How shedding light on Bitcoin shifts public opinion
You might recall a time in your childhood when it was frighteningly dark; too dark to see and move confidently in your surroundings. In this state of vulnerability, you may have envisioned someone or something, not perceived, to be within your midst, threatening to cause you harm in one way or another.
As a child, your fear of the dark might have centered on some imaginary creature under your bed, for example. A haunting monstrosity, ready to creep out and clutch you with its menacing claws, you imagined, could be concealed in the darkness, waiting to pull you down into a fearful realm of nightmares.
At the heart of it, it’s an intuitive and instinctive fear — not so much of darkness — but more importantly, of the unknown.
And we never completely outgrow it. Instead, we tend to hang on to this natural fear of the unknown throughout our lives.
It’s quite an effective survival trait, really. Over the course of human history, this fearful instinct has saved many an ancient ancestor from an untimely death to a predator, for example. This same uneasiness has protected our predecessors from harm caused by unseen hazards that might have otherwise been recklessly stumbled upon.
Fear, it seems, has its benefits. This powerful emotion can act as a warning system, and thus, protect us against danger.
We carry this survival instinct with us into many aspects of our now much safer and more comfortable modern lives. Although our everyday existence is no longer threatened with hazards on a regular basis, we continue to fear what we do not know, even in our encounters with comparatively mundane matters such as money and technology. And it is with this sense of trepidation that the average Joe Public approaches the little understood advent of blockchain technology and Bitcoin, in particular.
Which is a good thing. It would not be wise, for example, to throw savings away at every new profit-making scheme that comes down the pike. Thus, our fear of the unknown can even protect us when it comes to money matters.
I, along with many others, experienced this sense of trepidation and scepticism firsthand with the now-notorious Bitconnect pyramid scam. At first, it seemed pretty slick. Nice website, very professional delivery. But that little bit of natural healthy scepticism enabled me to question the validity of such a scheme. It simply did not feel right, and it certainly did not add up. After a little bit of investigation, it was quite clear that this was indeed a hi-tech riff on the old-fashioned ponzi scheme. This was a rip-off, bound to fail, at the expense, unfortunately, of those who did not perform the same due diligence.
Many have taken the same sceptical approach to Bitcoin, which, again, is a good thing. Interestingly, the further one delves into learning about Bitcoin, however, the more legitimate it becomes to most who take the time to understand it. Even with recent market woes, it holds up to scrutiny in ways that a rip-off scheme simply can not. It demonstrates a legitimate usage of a new technology — publicly distributed ledger technology in the form of blockchain — that overcomes problems society has experienced in the monetary system for centuries.
Interestingly, statistics reveal that the more people understand Bitcoin, the more positive their opinion of it tends to be. In a recent poll by YouGov, one in five British people felt they understood Bitcoin “fairly well”. With strikingly similar results, the same proportion of people also felt that the rise of Bitcoin as an everyday currency, as common as cash and credit cards, was an inevitability. Naturally, those who did not claim to have an understanding of Bitcoin were generally much more wary of its legitimacy.
It’s important to note, then: the more people understand the basic premises of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, the more positive their outlook toward it becomes.
The same can not be said for central banks and the fiat monetary system. Quite the opposite, in fact, tends to occur. Learning about the fragile and flawed nature of the fiat monetary system and the corruption of centralized banking and fractional reserves tends to go hand-in-hand with developing an understanding and appreciation of the advantages of cryptocurrency as global money. This, for many, is the beginning of what is often referred to as the ‘rabbit hole’ that one dives into upon learning of crypto in general. In a recent CryptoMurmur article, we delved into the concept of money creation via debt, and the inherent problems of this currently predominant monetary system.
Bitcoin is an emerging answer to the corrupt and oppressive forces of central banking. Thus, the two entities can not be separated nor can they be reconciled to each other. The one will grow at the expense of the other. Therefore, some public figures will never portray or speak of Bitcoin in a positive light, as it potentially hurts their bottom line and reduces their power and control. These are the figures who aptly call this new technology “rat poison”, not realizing that in this metaphor, they themselves are, ironically, the rats.
As for the majority of us? The key to a positive shift taking place in the larger public mind, to not be consumed or overtaken by these forces, is knowledge. As more people grow in understanding the freedoms and legitimacy of decentralized money, the more likely the inevitability of Bitcoin being as common as cash and credit cards becomes.
And that’s just the beginning. At some point, the tables may then turn against the legacy system. Our instincts to fear the dark may cause us to wisely turn away from the clandestine secrecy of centrally-controlled artificially fabricated money, instead choosing the light of an open, public, and distributed ledger economy. In the end, those fearful instincts we all have might, once again, save us.