A student’s mother shares lessons from a recent orange-pilling session with her daughter and friends at school.
This is an opinion piece by Tali Lindberg, the mother of a college student and co-creator of the HODL UP Bitcoin game.
Hyperbitcoinization is a future that all Bitcoiners hope to witness. It is defined via the Nakamoto Institute as “a voluntary passage from an inferior currency to a superior currency, and its adoption is a series of individual acts…”
But who are the individuals who must act to switch from using a given currency to using Bitcoin? I argue that today’s Gen Z students will play a major role in this transition. Unfortunately, most of them do not follow Bitcoin feeds on Twitter, nor do they read articles on the latest developments in monetary policy. Yet they are the future leaders of our country and the world and possess the power to influence policy. It is crucial that we find a way to reach them and educate them about Bitcoin.
That’s why, as an avid bitcoin enthusiast, I’m determined to make a difference and introduce this revolutionary technology of freedom to students. For me, making a difference means investing my time to impact, even slightly, those who have not yet joined the ranks of Bitcoin. In this article, I share my experience and lessons learned with a recent example. My conclusion is that we are empowered, even obligated, to make a difference by sharing Bitcoin with the young people in our lives.
Visiting my daughter with a bitcoin game in hand
I recently traveled to visit my eldest son at his college. Fortunately, she has a healthy group of friends who share traditional and respectful values. They are good children of the salt of the earth who know nothing about Bitcoin. My perfect audience!
I arrived armed with nothing but my passion and a bitcoin board game I created with my husband, HODL UP. For the next two hours, I sat on the cold, hard floor of a dormitory, playing the game with six students. My goal: to arouse their curiosity for Bitcoin in a fun way. These students major in business, environmental science, math, and psychology. Although they had all heard of bitcoin through the media headlines, they had no real knowledge of what it is and how it works, or even its importance.
Explaining the game to them was quick and easy. They had no questions about bitcoin. They just wanted to know how to play the game. So I didn’t spend time explaining the parts of the game and what they meant in real life. I simply told them each player’s options each turn. The game started and the students quickly picked up the pace.
As the game progressed, the students shared friendly conversations as they attacked and defended their gaming bitcoin. The room echoed with their laughter and it warmed my heart. At the same time, however, I was itching for them, any of them, to ask me anything about what they were experiencing in the game: the difficulty adjustment, the halving, hot and cold wallets, anything. It was hard to hold my tongue and not spoil the fun.
The game ended in a three-way tie and a close fourth place. All of the students had wide beaming smiles on their faces as they clapped their hands and celebrated. Then they started helping me pack the game pieces. When the last piece was put back in the box, I felt anxious that always, no one asked me any questions. “Oh my God, is someone going to ask me something?” I thought. “Someone ask me something!”
Now we’re going somewhere
The students all exclaimed that the game was super fun and thanked me for sharing it.
“Awesome, glad you liked it,” I smiled and replied, but inside I shouted, “Ask me something about Bitcoin!”
Unable to contain myself any longer, I asked them, “Does anyone have any questions about the game?”
One more try: “Does anyone understand why Bitcoin is struggling to adapt?”
“What?” one student replied, “Was it real?”
“Yeah, everything in this game has something to do with how Bitcoin works in real life,” I replied. “What did you learn about hot and cold wallets? What is your best practice?”
One student replied, “Well, I learned that I had to keep some money cold but some money warm so I could make smart investments.”
“What?” I thought.
“What do you think hot and cold wallets represent?” I asked them.
Another student answered: “Liquid and illiquid assets”.
Oh, now we’re getting somewhere, I thought. I clarified what cold storage really is and the importance of keeping their private keys offline.
Then I asked, “If you have a dollar and you put it in your pocket, how can someone steal it without touching it?”
Without hesitation, one of the students replied, “By printing money.”
I then explained that one of the best features of Bitcoin is that there will only ever be 21 million BTC, no more. No matter how much someone justifies needing more, there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins with a scheduled release driven by halving events.
It was hard not to sound like a preacher. I concluded by explaining to the environmental science student how Bitcoin uses wasted energy, making it productive, and forwarded him a few articles. I also gave some book recommendations to the business student who said he wanted to read about bitcoin over the summer.
As I drove home, I replayed the evening in my head and wondered if I had made any difference. Then I got a text from one of the students. He thanked me for the opportunity to play HODL UP. “It was pretty insightful,” he said.
“Clever? Insightful is good,” I thought. “I’ll take ‘insightful’.”
“I’m just here to plant a seed,” I reminded myself. Instead of focusing on someone’s orange pill, I’m just planting a seed. In time, life and circumstances will water the seed and hopefully one day the person will find themselves sliding down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. But I can’t insist on seeing the fruit from the seed as soon as I plant the seed. It feeds my ego, but it’s not the right focus for what I’m doing and it will put unnecessary and unnecessary pressure on my interactions with students.
So, going forward, here are three things I plan to keep in mind and recommend for parents, grandparents, and teachers to share Bitcoin with young adults:
- Warm up the audience and create a positive association – it was infinitely easier to get students’ attention discussing Bitcoin after they associated a fun experience with Bitcoin than if I went in cold. Therefore, the game first.
- Focus on having a good time, not teaching the nitty-gritty – keep it simple and light. Explain only if necessary or asked and avoid soap box syndrome.
- Remember, we are only planting the seed. Everyone comes to bitcoin when they are ready. We need to keep a low time preference perspective.
Next ! Game on!
This is a guest post by Tali Lindberg. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.