A Gen Xer’s Guide to Bitcoin
At 44, I consider myself a member of Generation X, that weird little generation wedged in between Baby Boomers and Millennials. The sons and daughters of the self absorbed Boomers, we Gen Xers have always had to look out for ourselves. We were latchkey kids figuring out how to navigate a largely disinterested world.
No wonder we gained the reputation of disaffected youths, listening to our Walkmans more than our parents. Parents who were busy getting divorced at ever increasing rates. In these circumstances we constructed a defense of sarcastic indifference, and a general disdain for authority. We needed this armor in a world that felt like a hangover from the Summer of Love, reeling from crack and AIDS epidemics, cold wars, and bad haircuts. Unsure about the future and really not caring that much.
Now that I’ve painted a sufficiently dismal picture of Gen X. Here’s the good news. We conquered all that shit and are now killing it! We didn’t sit around and wait for the future to happen, we made it happen. We dragged the world kicking and screaming into the digital age. A few Gen Xers that have made an impact: Julian Assange, Jeff Bezos, Sergy Brin, Puff Daddy, Jack Dorsey, Marissa Mayer, Elon Musk, Larry Page, J. K Rowling, Kayne West, Susan Wojcicki, and Jay Z
And most importantly, Satoshi Nakamoto. We might not know who he is, but according to his profile on the Bitcoin forum where he published his white paper, he was born on April 5, 1975. We can claim Satoshi and other cypherpunks like Nick Szabo, Adam Back and Hal Finney (just barely) as one of our own.
The Bridge to the Future
I remember when I was a kid having a rotary phone and a black and white TV and when my parents first bought a microwave oven. Also gadgets that kids today don’t even know existed like VCRs, Atari 6400s, and answering machines. During Gen Xers’ salad days the rate of technological advancement started ramping up to levels we take for granted today. We saw a billion dollar compact disc industry meteorically rise only to be snuffed out in 2001 by Steve Jobs and his iPod.
We Gen Xers have an intimate relationship with disruption. We saw the fall of Soviet Union and Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa. We saw the rise of new musical genres like grunge, hip hop, and electronica. Most importantly we saw the rise of the internet. These technological, political, and cultural disruptions have molded us into the perfect generation, at the exact right moment in history, to experience what may be the most profound disruption in human history: Bitcoin.
The Generation X Advantage
Gen Xers have the unique advantage of having grown up during the rise of the internet. We can remember what life was like without it, and we know how it feels to not be able to live without it. Dial-up modems, sending my first email, using a search engine for the first time. These all seem like they happened in another lifetime, yet also like they just happened yesterday.
Millennials grew up in an age of high speed internet and smart phones and don’t know a world without them. Boomers are from a simpler time. The technologies that existed when they were born still dominated when they reached adulthood. The breakneck speed of technological change Gen Xers thrive in scares the hell out of them.
Generation X has a rare chance to recognize a disruptive technology on the rise, having lived through similar disruptions in the past. Consider those practice runs for the main event. Like Millennials, we are technologically savvy and comfortable with change. Like Boomers we have some disposable income. Compared to either other cohort we are extremely well positioned to take advantage of a once in a species opportunity.
We can buy Bitcoin, and we should buy as much as we can. Why buy Bitcoin? As Satoshi said “If you don’t believe it or don’t get it, I don’t have the time to try to convince you, sorry.” or as Bill Clinton’s campaign manager said “It’s the economy, stupid.” For the unconvinced I’ll leave it to you to do your own research.
Suffice it to say the arguments against Bitcoin should sound familiar because they are almost identical to those against the internet (and the automobile, telephone, railroads, electricity, and probably the wheel). Don’t miss this chance. You understand disruptions and paradigm shifts. You have no excuse.
For a complete Gen X beginner, the easiest way to get started is with @CashApp for buying and @wasabiwallet for storing. Just buy a little bit to see what’s it’s like. Transfer it to your own Wasabi wallet so that you have total control over your own Bitcoin. Once you own a little you’ll find it more worthwhile to really try to understand it. It’s hard to be motivated to do any real research without some skin in the game. So my best advice for a total beginner is first get off zero. The same experimental approach you used when the internet first came out will serve you well once again.
What can Millennials and Boomers teach us?
I’m slowly slipping into middle age, an experience Boomers know well. We are starting to see that a lot of their carefully laid plans are not turning out so well, mainly pensions and social security. As retirement looms I’ve learned that having a plan B is absolutely necessary.
Millennials are digital natives. For them there is nothing strange about digital money. They barely know any other kind. As I’ve descended down the Bitcoin rabbit hole I’ve learned that it’s Millennials that are busily building Bitcoin. This beautifully mirrors history. Boomers Bill Gates and Steve Jobs laid the foundation for Gen Xers to build Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Under the mentorship of the Gen X cypherpunks, Millennials are hard at work building a new monetary system.
Extremely smart, passionate young people realized the potential of Bitcoin and they are now at the helm, with no sentimental attachment to the broken legacy system. For an old Gen X slacker like me this is great! I can tap into their energy and brain power by just buying Bitcoin. What a world!
I Believe that Children are The Future
Like many Gen Xers (and a few Millennials) I now have some youngsters of my own. They get Bitcoin instantly. Digital scarcity will never be a strange concept to them. In addition to stacking sats for my kids they’re also learning about Bitcoin.
I suggest a conference or local meetup for older kids. The @thebitcoinrabbi’s book is great for little ones. I took my oldest daughter (11) to BitBlockBoom and we had a great time.
I was lucky growing up to have a computer at home when it was still unusual. Spending all those hours messing around might have seemed like a weird thing for a kid to do at the time but it paid off. My kids will have the same opportunity with Bitcoin, Lightning, and whatever comes next.
Thanks for reading. Long Millennials, short Boomers, buy Bitcoin!