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A community dedicated to Bitcoin, the currency of the Internet. Bitcoin is a distributed, worldwide, decentralized digital money. Bitcoins are issued and managed without any central authority whatsoever: there is no government, company, or bank in charge of Bitcoin. You might be interested in Bitcoin if you like cryptography, distributed peer-to-peer systems, or economics. A large percentage of Bitcoin enthusiasts are libertarians, though people of all political philosophies are welcome.
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Let’s be honest, Bitcoin is confusing. Not to you (you are on this / after all), but to the people who have no idea what it is. Trying to explain Bitcoin is even harder. I’m sure we’ve all had those long, complicated, drawn-out conversations which leave people more confused than when it started.
To aid its adoption WE HAVE TO GET BETTER AT EXPLAINING WHAT BITCOIN IS.
Here are a few tips that should, hopefully, help you manage a simple and easy to understand discussion about Bitcoin.
Before we get to that, a few things to remember: Bitcoin is a fundamental change from what most people believe.
An explanation about Bitcoin shouldn’t be about “being right” or “winning the argument.” Instead, it should be about helping someone explore a new idea and begin to understand that there are actually different alternatives to the only “money” they’ve ever known. Bitcoin is complicated.
It’s important to remember that this is as much of an emotion transformation for someone as it is a logical one. A CONFUSED MIND ALWAYS SAYS NO. If you leave a person confused or frustrated about what Bitcoin is, they are more likely to build up a resistance to it and become close-minded because “it’s just too complicated.” Adoption is a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t feel the need to word vomit all of your intense 1337 cypto-knowledge in a single conversation. Slow and steady. Like a good story-teller, keep them wanting more.
Now, some tips to consider: 1. Start with ‘WHAT is Bitcoin?,’ not ‘WHY is Bitcoin?’
A fundamental mistake that people make is to try to justify WHY something exists before even explaining WHAT something is. Your explanations need to act as a building blocks of knowledge which means you have to have a very clear, very easily understood, fundamental premise: Bitcoin is…: Digital coins that exist on the internet that you can spend and save just like the paper money in your wallet. An alternative form of money than what you are given by your local government.
That's it. That's Bitcoin. While I’m sure we can, and probably will, argue about what that base, fundamental definition is, it’s important to start with WHAT, not WHY.
While hyperinflation, store of value, scarcity, the Federal Reserve, and how the printing of fiat devalues currency are all important, it does not answer the question of WHAT is Bitcoin. If you start with WHY, you are skipping a major building block in the mind of the listener and are on your way to creating confusion. And remember, a confused mind always says no!
Here is an example
. (Now, don’t go full-internet on me. I’m not degrading this person or this video THANK YOU PERSON FOR MAKING THIS VIDEO. This video is awesome! I only bring it up because it is a recent video that got some attention. It also demonstrates this point.)
When asked to explain Bitcoin, here is the opening line:
“The FED…is out of control with printing money…”
This is a ‘WHY is Bitcoin’ response. Already, the listener is probably thinking, ‘what the heck does the FED have to do with anything? I just wanted to know what Bitcoin was…’ and you may just lose your listener right there.
Furthermore, this video never actually says “Bitcoin IS…” While there is an implied comparison to gold, there is never a fundamental definition of WHAT Bitcoin is.
Start with a clear, concise definition of WHAT Bitcoin is before moving on to WHY Bitcoin is. 2. Let Them Lead / Gauge Their Interest / Know When To Stop
When explaining any topic to someone who doesn’t understand it, there is a very strong temptation to TELL everything you know. This is human nature. We are proud of what we know. We want to display knowledge and proficiency. We must, however, understand that it is counter-productive to the learning process. Imagine that certain math teacher going over that certain math problem. They explain it. They are enthusiastic about it. They write it on the chalkboard. Yet your eyes glaze over. It’s too much too fast. You are just waiting until the end when they finally tell you the answer. All logic and reasoning and understanding is gone. This is similar.
Instead of telling them everything you know, LET THEM ASK!
Allowing your listener to ASK demonstrates two things: an understanding
of the last thing you said and, more importantly, interest!
Ultimately, that’s what we want and need; their interest.
Believe me, just like that little kid asking, ‘why, why, why…?’ They will give you every opportunity to share a little bit more, and a little bit more.
Bitcoiner – “Bitcoin are digital coins that exist on the internet that you can spend and save just like the paper money in your wallet.”
(STOP TALKING AND LEAVE SPACE FOR THEM TO ASK!!!)
Noob – “Oh…ok…well…why do we need that? What's wrong with the money I have now?”
Bitcoiner – “Well, there is a risk that, over time, the money that you keep in your wallet or bank account will actually be worth less and be able to buy less stuff.”
(STOP TALKING AND LEAVE SPACE FOR THEM TO ASK!!!)
Noob – “Wait, what do you mean?”
And we are now on our way to a discussion about these messy and intense concepts of inflation vs deflation, printing of fiat currency, fractional reserve lending, etc. And through it all, LET THEM LEAD
Now this is the tough part. If their eyes glaze over, YOU HAVE TO STOP!
When the questions stop, YOU HAVE TO STOP!
The last thing you want to do is ramble on once they’ve stopped listening. Instead, ASK them a question:
“I’m sorry, did you not understand something I said?” “Did I answer your question?” “Is this interesting to you?”
By doing this, you will give them an opportunity to ASK you another question: “…back up…what did you mean when you said ‘store of value’?”
Or maybe even make a comment: “…wow…this stuff is pretty complicated…”
In either case, this actually helps keep the conversation going. Just back up, explain it again, keeping in mind your base concepts and definitions, and see if you can talk them past where they got stuck.
Maybe they shut you down entirely: “you know what, this is crazy, it can’t be true, let’s change the subject…”
To which the ONLY correct response is, “Ok!”
(we’ll get to this later).
Keep in mind that letting your listener lead will allow you to carry the conversation much further than you trying to push it along on your own. 3. Know Your Role / A Little at a Time / Don’t Overcorrect
So, what’s the end goal? Is it to have them whip out their phone, download an exchange, and make their first Bitcoin purchase right then and there?! No, of course not.
The role of these conversations is to LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE.
Your goal should be to spark interest
. If after talking with you they end up on The Google or The YouTube looking for more information, then you’ve done your part!
Movies and TV condition us to want the big payoff at the end: the parade, the teary embrace, the triumphant symphony. That is not real life. Really, the best ending to a Bitcoin conversation might just be your listener making an audible, but clearly deeply contemplative, “…huh…”. You’ve done your job. You’ve got them noodling something they have never noodled before.
Even once you understand Bitcoin, there is still an entirely different conversation about what the technology is, how it works, and how people interact with it. And let’s be honest, it’s complex and confusing. Exchanges, blockchain, forks, difficulty adjustments, miners, cold storage… More complicated ideas. More jargon. Make sure you throttle yourself back and explain just A LITTLE AT A TIME.
It’s ok to have one conversation about the fundamentals of Bitcoin and then an entirely different conversation about blockchain technology or how people acquire BTC or the difference between storing Bitcoin on an exchange versus a cold wallet. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to tackle all of this at once.
While all this is happening, BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCORRECT.
People know what they know, right? And what people know is always correct, right?? Be sensitive. If your listener makes a comment that isn’t true or is off track, don’t scold them or forcefully correct them. If your listener feels attacked or threatened, conflict will arise, and once that happens, their minds will be completely shut off.
No one listens during an argument. Don’t attack. Explain.
Noob – “Well, the USD is backed by gold, so that will prevent it from ever devaluing!”
Bitcoiner – “You know, it’s pretty interesting, a lot of people think the same thing. The truth is that while the USD was backed by gold for a long period of time, it isn’t anymore. You see, back in 1971…”
Keep it simple, factual, and non-confrontational.
Going back to our example from before, even if your listener shuts you down entirely, THAT’S OK!
They have now experienced a Bitcoin conversation that will percolate around in their brain. And perhaps next time they hear the word Bitcoin, whether on the news or on the internet, they’ll think back to your conversation and what you shared with them. Hopefully you didn’t over-press and their memory of your conversation isn't a negative one which leaves them feeling negative about Bitcoin: “Bitcoin is stupid and people who believe in Bitcoin are arrogant and rude.”
Finally, ENCOURAGE THEM TO DO THEIR OWN RESEARCH.
The journey doesn’t start and end with you. You are simply a stepping stone along their path. Know that you are playing a part in their story; you are not the main character.
Adoption of Bitcoin will occur over a long period of time. The conversations we have with our friends and family will create the buzz, attention, and understanding that is needed, but please be mindful that you are doing it in a helpful and productive way that leaves people wanting to know more.
Oh, and step 4: Stack Sats and HODL!
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