As the New Year begins, Bitcoiners should take this opportunity to engage with constructive criticism.
This is an opinion editorial by Heidi Porter, an entrepreneur with 35 years in the tech industry.
I love Bitcoin — and the world that Bitcoin helps create — as much as any of the most passionate Bitcoiners do. As such, I want to do and say things that help it succeed. This desire is not even an iota unique.
However, sometimes what does not feel productive, is productive.
Constructive criticism is productive discourse for Bitcoin. Pointing out incorrect assumptions is productive discourse for Bitcoin. Enumerating dangers is productive discourse for Bitcoin. Calling out hypocrisy of goals versus actions is (or can be) productive discourse.
That said, illogical or nonsensical criticism is not productive discourse. Criticizing because you haven’t done the work to understand is not productive discourse. Appealing to authority or intuition versus well-researched information is not productive discourse. Refusing to understand different use cases for different people is not productive discourse.
I think most people would agree in theory with the above. But then, we are human. Our wants, needs and emotions get in the way.
Getting criticism does not feel good. Giving criticism —regardless of merit — feels good. Immediate or short-term gratification does feel good. These are part and parcel of the incentives in the business of being human.
The result is that noise is amplified and signal is de-amplified. The result is that the wisest and most prophetic people in Bitcoin are often dismissed or ignored. Or shot. This shoot-the-messenger behavior is not correlated with price.
Messengers are shot in the bull market. Messengers are shot in the bear market. Messengers are shot in the sideways market. Messengers are just… shot.
The bullet-riddled know who they are. They repeat themselves, repeatedly. Let’s repeat and review just a few of these messages:
- If you want bitcoin to be for people’s security as well as freedom and human rights, don’t post public photos without people’s consent.
- If you want people to be physically secure using Bitcoin, stop sharing information with third-party marketing firms that do not meet the security required for Bitcoin customers. At the least, require separate customer emails for use in marketing systems versus account access or downloads.
- If you want decentralization of miners throughout the world, stop pushing for excessive mining in your city, your company and your country.
- If you want privacy, don’t shout that something offers complete privacy when that is not completely true.
- If your organization’s stated mission is “defending civil liberties in the digital world,” then you should speak up when a bill is introduced that walks all over those. Looking at you, Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- If you want people to use money soundly, don’t tell them to run up credit cards or mortgage their homes to put all their money into bitcoin and HODL.
- If you want a peaceful revolution, definitely don’t suggest that Bitcoin is analogous to weapons.
- If you want people to understand Bitcoin, don’t make irrational equivalences to explain it. In a recent Bitcoin Magazine article, Stephen Livera wrote about exactly this issue.
- (Dear reader, insert other similar If-then points here.)
If you don’t think any of the above is that important, then steel man the counter argument of the above. With the possible exception of the last one, all of the above present real threats to both people’s physical safety and security. All of the points are part and parcel of what people are themselves claiming to be the goals of Bitcoin.
Human incentives often operate from short-term or immediate gratification versus a look at long-term consequences or results. It takes humble research, hard work and an effort at discourse to deal with the above issues as well as other technical and business concerns that are raised and need to be solved.
For 2023, let’s not shoot productive messages or their messengers. Instead, let’s all take a good look at our own short-term incentives and gratification — and align them better with the goals we want for Bitcoin…
..in order to make a happier year for more, not just the few.
This is a guest post by Heidi Porter. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.