We are in a middle of a very unusual shift in finances. For the last 10 years, a new type of asset, decentralized (not owned by any entity in particular) and based on cryptography, not force (as the state-issued currencies are) is taking the world by surprise. There is a lot of polarization surrounding this cryptocurrency phenomenon. You have hardcore zealots, maximalists and speculators, on one side, and then you have “law an order” adepts on the other side, trying to protect the old ways of the money, on the other side, each playing their card as hard as they can.
After Bitcoin became legal tender in El Salvador, it’s more or less clear that a certain degree of mainstream adoption is inevitable, though. So, we know where the balance is tilting.
What is probably less obvious now is the best outcome of this, which, surprisingly, isn’t financial.
I’m not saying the impact of crypto, from a financial point of view, is not going to be deeply disruptive. I’m saying there is another type of impact, which is even more powerful than that.
Verify, Don’ Trust
As crypto becomes mainstream, people are starting to understand the inner workings of it. And one of these inner workings relies in the finality of cryptography. Meaning that once something is signed, it will stay signed. So, instead of believing, or assuming that a certain transaction took place, you can just verify it. You can check the signatures. You can verify the transaction yourself. Not only there isn’t any reliance of a middle man that you should trust with your transaction, like your banker, but you have the actual tools to make the verification yourself.
“Verify, don’t trust” is the mantra of the hardcore adepts of the blockchain. Starting a new node is always done by verifying the transactions one by one, and not just trusting by downloading the chain from some ftp site.
And that’s where the real benefit of the crypto adoption is. In this mindset.
The End Of The Fake-News Age
As this mindset becomes more and more pervasive, it will spill over other areas. And, indeed, there is a big area that will be literally swept away by this mindset, and that is what we call nowadays “the news”. Or, to be more precise, the fake news.
For the last century, we lived under the assumption that news = truth. It never was. But it became more and more obvious during the last couple of decades, when very deep, inertial parts of the society were nudged consistently in various directions, by blatantly distorting the truth. From Cambridge Analytica to Covid-19, fake news literally took over the world, even stopping it completely for a few months.
This wouldn’t happen if people wouldn’t agree. The comfort given by trusting other people, as toxic as it proved to be in the end, was preferred. The same comfort that allowed states to print obscene amounts of money, not backed by any kind of value, was abused by various actors, and brought the world on the brink of collective hallucination.
But this comfort is about the end. It will be replaced by something that all crypto maximalist learned and apply each and every day.
Verify, don’t trust.
I’m not saying it will happen all of a sudden. As crypto aficionados say: “gradually, then suddenly”. There are already signs that more and more people are becoming more selective with their sources of “news”, that more verification is done, and that pushing false narratives is becoming more and more difficult.
The world is splitting: on one side, those who are numbly hallucinating and drinking the cool-aid of eternal protectionism by the State, and on the other side, those who are choosing to see the world as it is (and yes, many times the world is just ugly), and take responsibility for their acts.
Choose your side wisely.