Materialism has taken its toll on the human spirit and Americans are unhappier than ever. Thanks to Bitcoin, people are prioritizing what truly matters.
Dr. Riste Simnjanovski is a tenured professor of public administration at California Baptist University. Most recently, his published research explores digital assets in the public and private sectors.
An immaterial essence, your authentic self or the spiritual aspect that gives life to the body — this is how many understand the soul. In recent decades, society gave the impression that the “true self” or “the spirit” was fading. From my perspective, humanity appears to have lost its grasp on the significance of life.
Well, this was true until the world lifted its head from popular news outlets and was introduced to Bitcoin. The innovation of Bitcoin, for many, helped identify, address and, in some scenarios, remove trivial burdens from their daily lives altogether. The private keys individuals hold are their insurance policy for the future. This is a simple solution to what used to be a complex problem.
The meaning of life is complex, however, most software is simple. Written code either works or does not; there is no in-between. While programmatic coding, in and of itself, can be complex, the outcome is not: function or failure.
Your existence is more complex. You can function one day and fail another. You can fail habitually and then function perfectly for brief periods. Software does not have the luxury of persistent failure (hint: This is where one could insert a joke about Ethereum or Solana’s failures). Luckily for humans, we’ve been programmed differently … and so has Bitcoin.
This article will examine how one open-source software code changed the world in regard to trust, integrity, value, consensus and finance. And how that same code reinvigorated the human spirit and unlocked freedom, joy and faith in an emotionally-misled society.
Yes, software does not have a soul; let’s get that out of the way now for professionals in the field of faith. What the Bitcoin protocol does have — rooted deep within and between the lines of code — is hope.
That hope drives individuals to go beyond a simple investment strategy, portfolio allocation or balance sheet adjustments. That hope clarifies the most important aspects of life. As a result, that hope also shines a light on a piece of human life that, without the noise of marketing, sales and influencers, illustrates the insignificance of so much.
Today, Americans are unhappier than they have been in 50 years. Some may blame the COVID-19 lockdowns, mandates or isolation; others turn their attention to fiscal issues such as inflation or financial censorship; while another group may take aim at global unrest or pharmaceutical companies poised to make billions off of human depression. Apparently societal happiness is terrible for big business and political oligarchs — who knew?
In 2022 I published a book titled, “The Bitcoin Heir Next Door: Happiness Beyond Generational Wealth,” which focused on a potential byproduct of a society that had refocused itself on what was really important: people’s true purpose.
Ironically, while investing significant time and effort into data calculations, historical accuracy, previous investment models and taxation, the smallest and what was perceived to be the most controversial aspects of the book at the time, was a chapter on spirituality and a conclusion more focused on individual happiness versus profits. This chapter is what resonated with readers the most.
Becoming aware of this fact was profound to me. What I thought was a fringe idea — the notion that software could unlock happiness in a society seeking significance — was more prominent than anticipated.
The book scaffolded history, monetary policy, theory, debt, financial institutions, investment models and taxation to propose an alternative to the status quo. In truth, I didn’t expect so many to see the protocol from the perspective I did. I believed that I needed to help persuade individuals that Bitcoin was an opportunity to unlock their true purpose.
I realize now that many were already using the protocol in this manner; they just weren’t making the headlines.
So, what made the headlines? Scams, rug pulls, falsified white papers, kids with exotic vehicles, parents who lost everything, the fact that coins hadn’t “moved” recently and centralized protocols. Those fringe stories made the headlines. In archaic media, “if it bleeds it leads,” but in Bitcoin, apparently, “if one could be horrified, then it’s glorified.”
In other words, the hare made the headlines while the tortoise continued on its path: slow and steady. This article is for happy tortoises working to become oblivious to the noise of hares and their antics. And if you’re a wild hare; maybe these tactics will provide you the freedom to get into a little more mischief; just be safe out there.
Yes, financial scoundrels are selling their souls by promoting boom and bust cycles or Ponzi schemes to the next “greater fool;” they will never cease to amaze in their attempts to persuade us. However, much of the quiet Bitcoin community are regular people, dollar-cost-averaging into positions, hoping that their stake will provide additional time to focus on the significant aspects of life.
Getting rich quickly, buying a Lamborghini or having flash-in-the-pan bygone success is not the focus for many. Twitter, Tik-Tok, etc., aren’t reality for the masses, rather they’re soapboxes for the extreme.
Conversely, the focus for my readers seems to be on time and freedom. It doesn’t make for viral posts on social media to watch a parent spend time with their kid at the park or a grandparent swinging on a porch knowing that their home is paid off. How can a business attempt to monetize true freedom and security?
The “quiet Bitcoin community” (QBCs) don’t sit on Twitter, check the price daily or second-guess their decisions. They probably don’t have an app to put laser eyes on their profile pic (if they even have a profile at all). They’re just living their lives and stacking bitcoin. Odds are, they’re probably not even reading this article (well hopefully my readers are … I appreciate the support, now get back to swinging on the porch, hanging out with your kiddos, or doing what you love).
For all its faults, omissions, failures and blind spots, this article has a single focus: to explore the human potential of hope as a byproduct of software.
When all the titles, successes, wealth, Botox, hair plugs, spray tans and material goods get stripped away, what are we left with as a society? Who are we? Are we, for the most part, greedy, selfish, myopic, close-minded and divisive? Or have a minority of stakeholders with a lot to gain from our unhappiness programmed us that way?
Bitcoin pushes back on materialism in the most profound way possible: with nothing at all. It’s just you, your private keys and time. What will you focus on, accomplish or enjoy with that time? My readers are probably at the park or swinging on a porch. In terms of bitcoin, it is broken into satoshis (the smallest unit); in terms of life, time is broken into seconds. I encourage you to take those seconds back and enjoy them while you still can.
Dematerialization, or the notion that society takes something of substance and removes that object's physicality, is not a new phenomenon. Recorded music went from physical form to digital in less than a generation, as did many of the world’s most significant texts, museums and art. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) attempt to take physical property to the next level of virtual property, but in the end, materialism still underpins the entire NFT ecosystem in my opinion.
Collecting, trading or lusting for one NFT or another only reduces the overhead on the producer of the virtual good. Society is attempting to replace physical material goods with virtual material goods in anticipation of a different outcome of happiness.
A majority of the NFT investment hinges upon selling at a higher price. The “habitually gotten rid of” mentality should tell participants what the ultimate trajectory is for the fad.
Bitcoin is the opposite: habitual accumulation is the goal.
For NFTs the result will be the same for the next generation as it was for this generation regarding material goods: More stuff will not make them happy. More stuff will not make you happy either. Trust me, I’ve had lots of stuff. I’d trade it all for more time with my late mom, brother, grandparents, friends and colleagues I’ve survived over the years.
Bitcoin won’t bring them back, but perhaps if Bitcoin was around decades ago, we could all have spent more time together. Maybe the next generation will have the luxury of time.
Homes have progressively become larger, vehicles barely fit into parking spots, storage facilities are at capacity and with each square inch, foot, purchase or download, society slips deeper into a depressive state. I thought the stuff was supposed to make us happier — wasn’t that what the ad promised me? Again, cue the kids at the park or the porch swing.
Perhaps we’re attempting to finance our happiness or replace our sadness with each purchase. Whatever the reason, additional purchases are not making us any happier. Of course, unless you’re the one packaging, promoting, selling and profiting off of the unhappiness. Big Pharma, don’t pretend like you’re innocent here either.
The system is designed perfectly. Perhaps the next purchase will make us happy, or the one after that. Probably not, but in doing so, we will have leveraged our time, usually with debt, to finance an attempt at happiness.
Congratulations, you now have to work for more hours, years or decades in exchange for material goods to impress people you don’t know or care about — what a fantastic scenario for bankers and salespeople and a catastrophic one for everyone else.
To be clear, I am not proposing that you sell everything and move into a leased tiny house or that you seek a specific religion in an attempt to remove all worldly attachments. On the contrary, what I’m proposing is that your current basket of “happiness” might be in desperate need of a spring cleaning. Maybe your digital portfolio has altcoins that should never have earned your attention, time or economic energy. Perhaps this is the time to fund your future with bitcoin versus something that mainly benefits a big bank, centralized exchange or influencer.
Please know that I want you to own your home, your income properties, your vehicles and all the tchotchke crap you obsess over on eBay. My goal is that you’re fulfilled and that you live for a purpose beyond those things, not because of those things. There is a difference. And Bitcoin might be able to help you get there.
Bitcoin has no opinion on your individual story, cares, preferences, orientation, faith, gender, faults, successes or livelihood. The protocol itself is agnostic of happiness or sadness. You will reap what you sow, and the protocol will reward you with whatever you desire — so choose carefully.
Where does this leave us? Bitcoin doesn’t have a soul, but you do, and you’ve been attempting to fulfill that soul, your purpose or spirit, with things versus actions. We’ve failed.
Let’s admit that fact and work to fix our mindset moving forward. I’ll state this cautiously because I realize that the statement may result in you never reading my work in the future, but friends tell each other the truth, so here is the statement:
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”
Perhaps your preferences in homes, vehicles, clothing, cell phones, musical instruments, firearms, authors, vacation spots, restaurants and the like aren’t actually your preferences at all. Perhaps they are programmed preferences from an arsenal of media you’ve consumed over the years. If that’s the case, even partially, we’ve got some soul searching to do and we better get to it. There isn’t a whole lot of time.
You have an immaterial essence, an authentic self, and a spiritual aspect to your life. Some people of faith already realize this, yet they, too, get caught up searching for happiness through material gains. Even some pastors are notorious for megachurches, mansions or profit-seeking endeavors. Scoundrels are in our midst, my friends. Let’s be on the lookout.
Whether you’ve reprioritized and made adjustments to what matters most in your life already or not, I would encourage you to explore how society could change if our priorities shifted. Perhaps if fixing the money truly fixes the world, a side effect of that fix might be a fulfilled life.
This is a guest post by Dr. Riste Simnjanovski. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.