Many people in the bitcoin ecosystem suffer from poor communication skills. Their inability to intelligently and compassionately convey an idea is intensified by the current scaling debate. I have experienced this issue first-hand since I am on the front lines of Bitcoin.com. Let me tell you a story and explain the consequences of this lack of coherent communication.
I was in Los Angeles last week for the Crypto Funding Summit. On the last day of the event, we had an afterparty at The Standard, which is a swanky rooftop lounge in downtown LA. Many influencers and speakers converged on the spot to network and continue the conversation.
That Escalated Quickly
The night started off well. Everyone sipped on their favorite cocktail and discussed details of their ambitions and entrepreneurial endeavors. I engaged in the conversations with glee. Toward the end of the night, I was discussing the scaling debate with a group of people. I mentioned the importance of expanding block sizes for the purposes of scaling the bitcoin network.
An individual eventually jumped into the conversation and cut me off. He said, “Bcash is btrash.” He repeated these obnoxious but puerile phrases several times. Then he entered into an incoherent tangent about how scaling the blocks cannot be accomplished and how Lightning Network is the method of choice.
I was annoyed by the way this guy rudely inserted himself into the conversation, but I let him finish his rant anyway. Once he finished, I began expressing the counterarguments and providing reasons why on-chain scaling is doable, and why having a usable cryptocurrency is of utmost importance.
I did not get far, though. The guy started to rage. Every time I talked, he cut me off and used the term “Btrash” in an attempt to trigger me. I remained calm, and asked him politely to allow me to finish my thoughts. He responded by saying “I have heard all the arguments,” and continued to rage with an alcohol-fueled tremor in his voice.
I said, “If you are not going to listen, my time is best spent elsewhere.” Then I motioned the crowd to move away from that individual so we could continue the discussion in peace. The group followed me and left that individual with a couple of others standing around. I decided that if a person is going to be totally disrespectful and rude then I will eject myself and others from that hostile environment.
The individual later came over and apologized to me “for raging.” I told him it is understandable, and that we can at least find common ground in the idea of competing currencies. He agreed.
The Psychology of the Scaling Debate: Group Think and Denial
This event was a perfect example of what’s happening in the bitcoin ecosystem. Many people are ventilating emotions rather than engaging in competent communication. This is happening because people have formed opinions based on group think and denial.
Many people in the ecosystem have embraced the group think of bitcoin core, because they see it as “the real bitcoin.” However, they do not realize they are being duped. They cannot see the fact that the essence of bitcoin has been tampered with to the point of being unrecognizable.
When bitcoin is transformed from a functional peer-to-peer currency to an immobile “store of value” that functions off the chain, it has lost its original characteristics that made it “bitcoin”. Just because it is still the “first chain” does not mean it is bitcoin. If a person gets eaten by a zombie and they turn into the walking dead, they are no longer the same person. They are simply the husk or shell of their former self, devoid of essence. In this regard, bitcoin has become the zombie. It’s devoid of its initial essence.
This fact has emboldened critics of bitcoin. Naysayers now run around saying that bitcoin can never be a currency, because it does not behave like a currency – because it is too expensive and cumbersome.
The traditional “bitcoiners” can’t acknowledge this truth though. They have adopted such a strong degree of in-group bias they cannot unfetter themselves from the truth of what happened. Now they simply parrot what they have heard from the Core programming team, even if what they are saying is antithetical to everything good about bitcoin. The Core supporters are in denial.
But regardless of whether my analysis is correct or not, the poor communication must be addressed first.
Conclusion: Getting Communication Right
If we can find a way to effectively communicate technical problems and work toward a mutual resolution then we can end some of the bickering and grandstanding.
However, if people continue to talk over others and act childish – as that individual did to me – then we will never get anywhere. In the case of bitcoin, it seems the problem is resolving itself as a result of the bitcoin cash hard fork.
Still, there needs to be understanding and the proper exchange of ideas in order to keep the nastiness to a minimum. If the community can work together and speak appropriately then any technical hurdle can be overcome.
Even if I disagree with core supporters, I believe there can be proper compromises and workarounds for any conceivable problem. I will at least entertain their ideas and digest their arguments. My mission is not to go around berating people for disagreeing. It is to propose solutions and possibly find common ground, such as in the example above.
What do you think about the communication problems in the bitcoin ecosystem? Can they be resolved so we can all move forward?
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, The Balance, and Hackernoon
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