Lessons Learned: Two Months as a Crypto Newbie
This post is to share my experience over the past few months as a cryptocurrency newbie. I'm one of many new members who joined r/cc after WSB, $GME, and dogecoin garnered massive media attention. My general interest in technology, and discretionary income, means I'm the perfect idiot who has no idea what I'm doing while at the same time being incredibly curious. I don't think I'm alone. I think I'm like a lot of newbies around here. So here's a newbie's perspective. Veterans who have been around for years through gains and losses, heartache and celebration, maybe forget what it was like to new once. I hope new people read this and realize they're not alone. I hope leaders in this sub read it and remember to be kind to the newbies.
Doge – the beginning
I first got interested in doge in 2014. I'd heard of Bitcoin, didn't think much of it, and at the time I was barely making it financially. I didn't have extra money to throw at unknown tech, and nobody I knew thought Bitcoin was going to be anything other than an interesting idea. I was curious though and set up a mining rig. I mined about 5,000 doge way back then, put it in a wallet, and forgot about it. That experience taught me blockchain basics. It was fascinating, but there was little wide adoption and it seemed like an academic pursuit rather than a practical one. Life put me on another path, and my exposure to blockchain was limited to the same old jokes on Twitter. How blockchain was buzzword central, every new project used it, and yet it meant nothing at the same time. It was tech bro central mansplaining why blockchain was the future, and no one wanted to listen. I pretty much didn't think about crypto or blockchain again until 2021.
Fast forward to January 2021, dogecoin is up a lot and hits the news. Major news outlets cover the rise of dogecoin. Well alright, I know a little bit about this. But how much could it matter? I found my old wallet folders deep within an external hard drive, recovered the private key, and sent coins to a wallet. I had about $1,500 USD worth. I was blown away. Money I forgot about 7 years ago was worth something. Though I'm now much more financially stable, this was still enough money to pique my interest. I let it ride and in the next few weeks saw the price rise even further. My dogecoin was now worth around $4k USD. There was no way I thought. And considering how cavalier people were being about dogecoin in general, I considered it could go even higher. I went through the same scenarios in my head I'm sure a lot of you have. I caught the crypto bug. If this dumb shitcoin reaches x dollars then I'll have made x profit. What can I do? Pay off my student loans? Buy a car? Help out my family? This could be a monumental turning point. Really a life altering amount of money. That's when I understood people here chasing pumps, profits, the next altcoin about to 20x. People realize what that money could mean in their lives and would do almost anything to make it happen. The stock market has been good this past year, but unless you get lucky, not even close the upside of crypto. When I see people on this sub criticizing others for being "too emotional," I get what they mean but wish they were a little more kind. Making 1000% profit truly is an emotional moment if it's the difference between affording sports or music lessons or college for your kid, or not.
Once a shitcoin, always a shitcoin
As we all know though, dogecoin truly is a shitcoin. It's fun, but a shitcoin nonetheless. When I saw the prices start to drop I started to do my research to figure what other coins to convert them into. I didn't want to wait too long in case they dropped to nothing so I went with the big names we all know. BTC, ETH, ADA, etc. A little here, a little there. Nothing scientific about it. I'm an amateur like most of the people here. I don't know why the markets rise and fall. I just know crypto has huge upside potential and I chose the recognizable players.
Once it dawned on me I was continuing to make money, I started to earnestly research crypto projects. What I found is there are mountains of terminology and concepts. Could literally be multiple college level classes with textbooks as thick as any other computer science reference. Blockchain, and cryptocurrency in particular, is unfriendly for a newbie. There's a reason Coinbase and others have been investing a ton into education with free money as incentive. Mainstream adoption would otherwise take even longer. These concepts are hard to understand for non-tech savvy folks. They are abstract, decidedly computer science centric, and difficult to dumb down. Finding metaphors and analogues to explain crypto in ways people understand is challenging. It takes to time unpack what a node, ledger, block, etc. are and how they all come together to form digital currency. There are tons of people in the world who are still barely computer literate. Explaining crypto to them would be like explaining in detail the science behind landing the Perseverance rover on Mars. In this lifetime they might not ever understand. Even with basic coding chops some crypto jargon is hard for me to wrap my head around. After enough research though, I realized one of the reasons it's tricky is because there are so many different implementations and communities. Bitcoin is different to Ethereum is different to Cardano and so on. The rules change slightly depending on who's running the game, and there are thousands of blockchains sometimes with multiple coins. It's a lot to take in for someone starting out. What I'm trying to say is, take your time and learn about the tech. Be patient with yourself and be ok with not knowing for a while. There are a ton of resources out there if you take the time to go find them. This is where veterans of this sub come in. Be welcoming to new people and provide helpful answers when you can. Don't condescend because someone doesn't know something. We were all there once.
The next gen
What I came to realize is blockchain is about a lot more than money. It is a whole new computing paradigm. It feels very next gen because it is. If Java and .NET are the old, clunky dinosaurs in the room, blockchain (in whatever language) is the genius wunderkind. There is so much promise. There's no guarantee it will succeed, but it has all the underpinnings and resources it needs to make the world new again. If this technology isn't it, I don't know what is. Some implementation somewhere will succeed. Bitcoin obviously because it gained wide adoption, but what's next? That's the question which drives people to throw money at the next altcoin, research be damned. It's because that could be the next big thing, and dang if it isn't exciting. And that's why I don't blame people for throwing money at the new shiny thing, because it really could be the one.
So this has already gone on for too long. If you didn't read through all of this (and I don't blame you), here are the takeaways.
- There are a TON of difficult concepts and terminology for newbies to learn. If you're just starting out take the time to educate yourself using the resources available all over this sub.
- Not knowing is normal. This technology is moving quickly and there are thousands of projects each with their own implementation details. Be curious and ask questions. If someone is condescending, call them out.
- Be excited, but have a plan. Don't invest more money than you're willing to lose and know why you're investing.
- Veterans – be kind to newbies and help educate them. The more people who know about crypto the more potential upside there is for you too. Knowledge sharing benefits the whole community.
- Crypto is the future and you all being here today means you're already ahead of the curve.
Thanks for taking the time to read folks. I wish you well on your crypto journey and hope to see you on the moon one day.