This is an opinion piece by Boomer, a longtime active member of the Financial Independence/Early Retirement (FIRE) movement and contributor for Bitcoin Magazine.
I was recently inspired after reading Tomer Strolight’s article, “Bitcoiners Aren’t Toxic – They Have Integrity”.
For context, I read it a few days after Nic Carter’s”situationreally exploded on Twitter, and the Strolight article really resonated with me. To be clear, I have a lot of respect for Carter and all the good work he has done for the Bitcoin community, especially the work he has done to demystify energetic fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Love him or hate him, he truly is one of Bitcoin’s most prominent voices in the energy and mining space. Over the past few weeks, he has taken on the chin from many in the community for investments in ‘blockchain’ and ‘crypto’ ventures through his venture capital firm, Castle Island Ventures. . In his defense, he’s been very transparent about his investments in these projects, speaking quite openly on his “On The Brink” podcast for at least a year. In retaliation for the criticism, Carter has written a few articles and appeared on a few podcasts where he has hit back at the critics, calling out a vocal group in the Bitcoin space known as the “Toxic Bitcoin Maximalists” or pejoratively “Toxic Maxis”. I don’t intend to repeat exactly what was said about him or what he said back, but it all got pretty ugly. In the opinion of this humble plebs, this seems childish. It could be a symptom of the bear market that Bitcoin folks are turning around, or maybe it’s Bitcoin’s immune system doing its job.
Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about what the terms “toxicity” and “maximalism” mean to me. I deliberately refrained from reading too much on the subject because I want to make sure I come to my own conclusions, but I know there have been quite a few articles on the subject recently. Pete Rizzo, Stephan Livera, and John Vallis have all written about maximalism over the past few days, and I can’t wait to read them, but first I want to share my own thoughts. I listened to my regular rotation of podcasts and heard just about every Bitcoin podcaster give their two sats on Carter, Maximalists and Toxicity. I’d like to commend Joey and Len from “The Canadian Bitcoiners Podcast” for discussing Carter’s recent spat with the maximalists in a way that I think sums it up nicely. They get into it at the end of the episode.
When I started my bitcoin journey, Elon Musk was pumping dogecoin. I remember the mainstream media’s fascination with all of this. Musk even hosted “Saturday Night Live!” It all seemed playful to me and it made sense. Musk is this future-focused tech CEO, and I knew Tesla had bitcoin on its balance sheet. Bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin – it all sounded like me back then, and Musk seemed to fit right in. I remember listening to Bitcoin podcasts that were very critical of Musk, and it confused me. All publicity is good publicity, right? A lot of Bitcoiners I followed were really upset with what this guy was doing, and I just didn’t get it. Guess that was my first taste of Bitcoin’s “toxic” culture, not that I thought about it much. I was not ready. I was too busy learning.
Strolight wrote his article around the same time Musk was hosting “Saturday Night Live.” This was before I was ready to figure it all out, so I’m grateful I stumbled upon it now. It really motivated me to do a personal exploration of how I define ‘maximalism’.
I’m far from done with this exploration and it may be something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’m always way too new here to have a fully formed opinion of what “toxic bitcoin maximalism” really is, but I know enough now to understand how bitcoin continues to shape me and how important it is. Bitcoin means different things to everyone, so it makes sense that Bitcoin maximalism is equally personal. I truly believe that in Bitcoin we have discovered the greatest form of money ever and with this discovery we have the potential to realign many (if not most) of the perverse incentives plaguing this world. For me, this belief is Bitcoin maximalism. Does defending make someone a toxic Maximalist? I guess it depends on your point of view.
Broadly speaking, Bitcoiners are leaders: Type-A personalities who aren’t exactly the most politically correct group of people. What we are is a group of sovereign individuals guided by truth, transparency and a belief in protocol that has no time for bullshit. Of course, we can pass for toxic! Does this really surprise anyone!? There’s a difference between being toxic and being an asshole, though. Some of the things I’ve read on Twitter from Bitcoin advocates are downright rude, intolerant, and childish. Throwing insults in the name of Bitcoin doesn’t make you a maximalist, and it doesn’t make you a hero either. Stop this shit. It doesn’t help. But if you call a spade a spade, it’s not toxic. And if you’re offended that someone is toxic for standing up for something they believe in, you might be the toxic one.
Bitcoin is for everyone. And although there are no guardians, there may be a need for protectors. Maximalism is that protection. Bitcoin Maximalists have to fight threats, and there are certainly plenty of threats out there. Maybe maximalists must be toxic since Bitcoin itself is perfectly pure. Maybe Gigi is right and toxicity equals love. It’s been said many times before, but I believe toxic maximalists serve as Bitcoin’s immune system. Like a biological organism, the immune system can sometimes go overboard and occasionally kill healthy cells, but it does so to protect the organism. Some degree of toxicity is necessary because if we are not toxic enough then shitcoins, scammers and fiat bloodsuckers will run rampant. But if we’re too toxic, we’ll waste our energy fighting each other and we’ll drive away people who watch curiously. While no amount of toxicity will ever kill Bitcoin, an overly toxic environment could certainly slow its adoption. It’s a fine line to walk, and every Bitcoiner needs to find where it fits in, but we don’t all need to agree on where that line really is.
I to know that Nic Carter has studied Bitcoin deeper and longer than me. He knows that bitcoin is not just an investment tool or an asset class. He knows how important the discovery was. That being said, he should be allowed to invest in as many blockchain ventures as he wants, but he will be held to a higher standard than some newbies, and he should be expected. He shouldn’t be surprised (or triggered) when people call out to him. Is this a case where the immune system attacks a healthy cell? I am not sure.
Personally, I find myself becoming more and more convinced by Bitcoin day by day. I guess my maximalism grows and I find myself becoming less and less tolerant, but you still won’t find me hurling insults on Twitter. It’s not who I am, but I reserve the right to be as toxic as necessary. And you know what? You don’t have to like it. We all have a role to play in this Bitcoin world. If I can eventually become the “not so toxic” Bitcoin Maximalist, that’s a role I’d be honored to play, but to all the toxic maximalists, keep up the good work. Growth only comes from discomfort, and every time your toxicity makes someone uncomfortable, it helps someone else along the way. Keep talking bullshit as you see.
This is a guest post by Boomer. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.