This is an opinion editorial by Gabriel Vazquez, a contributor for Bitcoin Magazine.
Bitcoin Maximalism is perceived 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 piece, I explain how this couldn’t be further from the truth. I cover my journey to maximalism and how Bitcoin has taught me to HODL through hardship, readjust my aspirations and lowering my time preference. Finally, I will make the case that Bitcoin is a beacon, not only for the OGs, venture capitalists, CEOs and all those other wealthy acronyms, but for the poor, the tired and the huddled masses.
2017 was a big year for Bitcoin. It was also a big year for Puerto Rico, where I was lucky enough to be born and raised. September brought two Category 5 hurricanes to the island back to back, a mere two weeks apart from each other. First, Hurricane Irma narrowly missed direct landfall. Despite the near-miss, the sheer size and intensity of the storm still managed to damage infrastructure, take lives and leave millions without power. Then Maria came. With a touch of irony, my power was restored less than 24 hours before Hurricane Maria made landfall, so I had barely enough time to charge my devices. Little did I know, I wouldn’t be able to do so again for the next five months.
The lights flicked back on in my apartment mid-February 2018, the celebratory yell from an entire neighborhood echoing in the night was something to behold. By then, bitcoin’s blow-off-top bull run had recently come undone, the dust had barely settled and the price hovered 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 was how my journey began. Not as a sophisticated investor looking to diversify, or as a cypherpunk hell-bent on ending the Federal Reserve, but as a humble bartender who had just lost a lot and wanted to make some of it back.
For many, buying bitcoin is simply an allocation of some disposable income, but it wasn’t for me. I’m proud to say that, despite having a high time preference and simplistic goal at the time, I never sold. It’s a tricky topic to write about — the lack of doing something — but I feel it’s the most important part of my story. HODLing is hard. Yet through holding, I slowly learned about what truly makes it 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 around $100 worth of ether and sold it for a 50% loss a few months later. Unbeknownst to me, through the cleansing of shitcoin capitulation, I had just become a Bitcoin Maximalist.
Maximalism wasn’t a choice at first; I simply couldn’t afford to gamble and speculate. It was those “toxic” Bitcoin Maximalists, along with some common sense, which kept me away from all the scams and noise. I held my underwater bags for the better part of a year. I would dollar-cost average small amounts, my confidence growing along with the size of the purchases. As the price climbed I was overcome with the feeling of, “Oh shit, I don’t have enough bitcoin!” The following years would continue to bring challenges to Puerto Ricans and bitcoin holders alike.
I was scrambling for a lifeboat. I quit my vices; I stopped 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 have been all too eager to fill their places. Through Bitcoin, I found a way to potentially secure a piece of this land I call home and prepare for the uncertain times that lie ahead. I feel so incredibly bullish — without caring about the price — about how there must be so many people enduring their own personal Hurricane Maria as I type this. Bitcoin is in a better position than ever to help them, it is just waiting to be known. It has never been about fiat, but rather about sovereignty and self-realization through willpower and endurance. I HODL because I know things are only going to get worse. Just as I stockpiled batteries and bottled water before, I can do something to prepare for the difficult times ahead by stacking bitcoin.
This is a guest post by Gabriel Vazquez. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.