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Pursuing the Unattainable: Engaging in a Rational Crypto Discourse

Crypto in the United States is witnessing unprecedented levels of polarization and politicization.

Paradoxically, this signifies that the concerns surrounding this technology are no longer on the fringes of ordinary Americans' minds. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proclaiming his support for Bitcoin during his presidential campaign launch and President Biden accusing Republicans of safeguarding "crypto traders" in debt ceiling negotiations highlight the increased attention crypto is receiving. Consequently, it is subject to the same divisive treatment as other mainstream topics. Instead of remaining a detached, technical discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of policy options, the discourse has now become laden with emotion and exaggeration. Consequently, attaining a genuine public comprehension of the technology's potential and risks appears even more elusive.

As observed in the broader political landscape, social media plays a significant role in exacerbating this issue. Individuals representing both the right and the left use fear-mongering tactics, exaggerating the faults of their opponents and promoting oversimplified solutions. This strategy has been proven effective in attaining the most valuable currency of our era: online attention.

The consequence is a society that lacks the ability to compromise and fails to create room for a thoughtful analysis of the facts. While outright lies and disinformation do exist and dominate some discussions, the greater issue lies in the inability of debates to transcend superficiality. A nuanced and intricate reality cannot be condensed into 140 characters. However, it is within this complexity that the truth lies waiting to be discovered.

The current state of the crypto discussion is characterized by a narrow perspective. People tend to have extreme and uninformed opinions, either loving or hating crypto. There appears to be a lack of willingness on both sides to comprehend each other's viewpoints and a dearth of effort in finding common ground.

If you're reading this article, chances are you're a supporter of cryptocurrencies. Therefore, you might be tempted to attribute blame to politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and regulators like Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, whose rigid positions have contributed to a growing antagonism towards this technology among progressive Democrats. It's understandable to feel that way (I'm also prone to the same reaction). However, merely assigning blame does not contribute positively. A toxic discourse is a result of the actions of both sides involved.

The industry should explore better approaches to engage with its critics, relying less on Twitter and prioritizing more face-to-face interactions in the real world.


Amidst this landscape, it is essential to highlight exemplary journalism such as the work of my colleagues Nikhilesh De, Cheyenne Ligon, and Doreen Wang, whose article titled "The Bitcoin Mining Debate Is Neglecting the Most Affected Individuals" sheds light on the areas where both factions in the cryptocurrency discourse should be willing to compromise.

The trio paid a visit to Dresden, NY, where they explored Greenidge Generation's bitcoin mining operation. This facility has become a focal point in the broader discussion about the environmental impact of Bitcoin and the contentious political disputes surrounding New York State's decision last year to prohibit new mining projects. During their investigation, they discovered that both sides have resorted to making highly exaggerated assertions about the positive or negative effects of Greenidge's operation. Assemblywoman Anna Kelles, a Democrat from New York, has persistently made the inaccurate allegation that the facility is causing thermal pollution in nearby Seneca Lake, leading to the demise of aquatic life. Simultaneously, many proponents of mining have been guilty of overstating the benefits to the community, including the number of jobs created.

Remarkably, the article highlighted a statement from Dresden's mayor, William Hall, who revealed that prior to CoinDesk's visit, he had never received any communication from journalists, lobbyists, or politicians regarding Greenidge. This includes individuals from both the Bitcoin advocacy community and critics who accuse the company of causing harm to the local environment.

The fact that the comprehensive and diverse experiences of an entire town with an industry can be disregarded while different groups in a broader national debate construct distorted and evidence-lacking interpretations of that reality is a clear indication that the issue has been heavily politicized.

Due to the impasse in procedural matters, Congress has been unable to enact definitive legislation for this particular industry. Additionally, the recent highly publicized downfall of Sam Bankman Fried's FTX exchange has stirred up intense emotions among the public. Consequently, the previously bipartisan atmosphere surrounding cryptocurrency on Capitol Hill has regrettably dissipated. While there are still numerous proponents on the political left, criticism of the industry is increasingly associated with Democrats, while Republicans have taken ownership of advocacy. This division is unlikely to yield any positive outcomes.

Don’t be a troll

As previously stated, responsibility for this situation can be attributed to both parties. Therefore, as a considerate and well-intentioned member of the cryptocurrency community, what proactive measures can you take to contribute?

To begin with, I encourage you to explore the upcoming Consensus report, scheduled to be published by CoinDesk next month. This comprehensive report stems from a purposeful initiative to unite divergent perspectives during our Consensus event held in Austin last month. The event aimed to foster meaningful discussions and debates on eleven fundamental industry matters, with the ultimate goal of charting a collective path forward.

In a broader sense, it is beneficial for each one of us to reflect upon our conduct not only on social media but also in other areas of life.

Follow these wise principles: Practice humility, acknowledging your limitations. Show genuine consideration for the concerns expressed by your critics. And, above all, steer clear of any trolling behavior.

A prime example of the aforementioned is the parody video released by Riot Platforms as a response to a New York Times article discussing the environmental impact of bitcoin mining. This video contributed to a proposal by the Biden Administration to impose taxes on the industry. The clip depicted an official wearing safety gear while walking through Riot's Texas facility with a CO2 emissions reader. The purpose was to sarcastically declare that Bitcoin mining had no carbon emissions. It was a form of satire that exuded an excessive level of self-satisfaction, aiming to convey the message that our focus should not be on judging energy usage choices, but rather on evaluating the carbon emissions originating from the energy source itself. In other words, the attention should be directed towards whether a region's power grid relies on renewable or fossil fuel sources, rather than how the electricity is utilized.

The joke flew right past people; critics viewed the character as a representation of the "bitcoin bro" stereotype, someone who naively believes that a mining operation has no impact on the environment. Climate change is a pressing concern for billions of individuals, and Bitcoin's substantial energy consumption is far from an insignificant matter. Did the Riot team expect that instead of aggravating these individuals, this Borat-like endeavor would actually enlighten them?

In Washington as well, advocates should strive to avoid provoking critics within the industry. They should express their criticisms and assert their viewpoints, but in a manner that allows their opponents to explore possibilities for compromise. A letter from crypto supporters, House Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), addressing SEC Chairman Gensler's failure to approve applications for Bitcoin exchange-traded funds, was perceived by a Washington insider as a deliberate provocation. Why would they want to arouse Elizabeth Warren's "anti-crypto army"?

If you consider yourself part of the reasonable majority willing to find common ground, refrain from succumbing to the allure of supporting extremists whose excessively vocal voices dominate amidst the chaos, seeking attention on social media from both ends of the polarized spectrum. Even if they're sharing catchy soundbites, resist the urge to click the "like" button.

In conclusion, refrain from engaging in troll-like behavior and avoid providing attention or responses to trolls.

Source Coindesk