Rather than focusing on growth through adoption, educating a population on a novel technology or establishing legitimate uses that extending beyond “digital money”, the narrative surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrency became one of greed and confusion.
The relentless media cycle at the end of 2017 fluctuated between arrogant perplexity and annoyed FOMO, with early crypto adopters being hailed as visionary innovators or just plain lucky depending who you asked. The water cooler conversation for crypto made an abrupt change from “What is Bitcoin?” to “How can I get rich?”
While the price of BTC has slipped precipitously since ending 2017 trading near $20,000, the industry of cryptocurrency has remained as polarizing as ever. Throughout the bullish run that characterized last year, economists, financial reporters and Wall Street moguls continued to point out the flaws of the number one cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Ranging from the dangers of deflationary currencies to the extreme price volatility of the crypto markets, Bitcoin had no shortage of detractors who attempted to steer away investors even during the height of price appreciation.
The end result, which should have been predictable from a standpoint of a nascent industry, was over-inflation of value and even greater expectations. The bull run to end 2017 and extend into the first weeks of January was built upon investors who felt fearless in their decisions, not taking the time to learn about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency or the extensive altcoin market–including a litany of ICOs that would prove disastrous over the year.
A white paper and a promise was enough to drive billion dollar valuations, with most investors simply looking for the next coin of the day to get pumped on exchanges.
As opposed to the organic growth that most technology needs to establish itself in the mind of Main Street, Bitcoin became the unfortunate recipient of overextending expectations. Investors bought into crypto with not just the expectation of asset-appreciation but ludicrous overnight wealth to be obtained. Few asked where the technology was at in terms of development, and why certain barriers to scale–such as transaction fees and speeds–would still be months and years away from being solved.
The market collapse that followed in January and February, extending into the final month of the year with Bitcoin and altcoins hitting their relative low, has brought out a host of schadenfreude, with nearly every economist and analyst waiting to cast stones at the industry of crypto and the investors who bought in during the fall. For most in the industry of crypto, the financial narrative is producing an ongoing annoyance, with Bitcoin having been proclaimed “dead” many times before. But the overtone being applied to the more recent articles on Bitcoin’s demise is one filled with glee over the failure.
While some take pleasure in painting Bitcoin as the greatest bubble in history that finally popped, it’s becoming increasingly hard to take serious the opinions of financial professionals and experts who are allowing their emotional sides color their analysis. Somehow, Bitcoin transformed into as much an ideology as a technology, one that detractors feel compelled to stamp down upon to the extent of being irrational.
If anything, that might be all the indication supporters of Bitcoin need to find continued hope in the future of the currency.