This is an opinion editorial by Gabriel Vazquez, contributor for Bitcoin Magazine.
Bitcoin maximalism is seen by many as a “toxic” trait, a brand of culture war waged by veteran holders, OGs and whales who will do anything to pump their bags. In this brief article, I explain how that couldn’t be further from the truth. I cover my journey to maximalism and how Bitcoin taught me to HODL through hardship, readjust my aspirations, and reduce my time preference. Finally, I will argue that Bitcoin is a beacon, not just for OGs, venture capitalists, CEOs, and all those other rich acronyms, but for the poor, the weary, and the huddled masses.
2017 was a big year for Bitcoin. It was also a great year for Puerto Rico, where I was lucky to be born and raised. September brought two Category 5 hurricanes to the island back-to-back, just two weeks apart. First, Hurricane Irma just missed direct landfall. Despite the near miss, the size and intensity of the storm still managed to damage infrastructure, take lives and leave millions without power. Then Maria arrived. Ironically, my power was restored less than 24 hours before Hurricane Maria made landfall, so I barely had enough time to charge my devices. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to do this for the next five months.
The lights came back on in my apartment in mid-February 2018, the celebratory cry of an entire neighborhood echoing into the night was something to behold. By then, Bitcoin’s meteoric bull run had recently unraveled, the dust had barely settled, and the price was hovering around $10,000. I remember thinking, “If I buy here and it goes back to where it was just a month ago, I can double my money!” This is how my journey began. Not as a sophisticated investor looking to diversify, or as a cypherpunk bent on ending the Federal Reserve, but as a lowly bartender who had just lost a lot and wanted some back.
For many, buying bitcoin is simply an allocation of disposable income, but that wasn’t for me. I’m proud to say that despite having a high time preference and a simplistic goal at the time, I never sold. It’s a tricky subject to talk about – the lack of doing something – but I think it’s the most important part of my story. HODLing is hard. Yet while holding on, I slowly learned what makes it truly valuable and how fascinating bitcoin is as an invention. I tried to convince friends to buy it without success. Around the same time, I bought about $100 worth of ether and sold it for a 50% loss a few months later. Unbeknownst to me, through cleaning up the shitcoin capitulation, I had just become a Bitcoin Maximalist.
Maximalism was not an option at first; I just couldn’t afford to gamble and speculate. It was these “toxic” bitcoin maximalists, along with a bit of common sense, that kept me away from all the scams and noise. I held my underwater bags for a good part of the year. I would make small to medium dollar amounts, with my confidence increasing with the size of the purchases. As the price climbed, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of “Oh shit, I don’t have enough bitcoins!” The following years would continue to pose challenges for Puerto Ricans and bitcoin holders.
I was looking for a lifeboat. I left my vices; I quit smoking and drinking and focused all my efforts on trying to put myself in a better position for the future. Many Puerto Ricans were forced to leave after Hurricane Maria, and many tax incentive seekers are eager to take their places. Through bitcoin, I have found a way to potentially secure some of this land I call home and prepare for the uncertain times ahead. I feel incredibly optimistic – regardless of the price – that there must be so many people enduring their own Hurricane Maria as I type this. Bitcoin is better placed than ever to help them, it is just waiting to be known. It was never about fiat, but rather about sovereignty and self-realization through will and endurance. I HODL because I know things will only get worse. Just like I stored batteries and bottled water before, I can do something to prepare for the hard times ahead by stacking bitcoins.
This is a guest post by Gabriel Vazquez. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.