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Bitcoin and Skateboarding’s Decentralized Networks

Skateboarding is a fast-growing counterculture in today’s world. It is easy to see just about every type of person within this crowd. Having worked at a popular skate camp for ten-plus years, I met and spent time with a plethora of skaters from all over. Something I witnessed throughout that time was a lack of financial aptitude among many skateboarders. A select few within the subculture have obtained a quality financial education and done well for themselves. However, in general, a large portion of us are financially illiterate. I speak from personal experience in that regard. Skateboarders have inherent freedom about them. A skateboard is relatively low in cost, yet it can provide some crucial necessities of life:

  • deep friendship,
  • communal importance,
  • entertainment,
  • and many wonderful life fulfillments.

Nevertheless, for skateboarders, one area I’ve seen a significant disconnect and, at times, a stigma around is money. An overwhelming number of skateboarders are broke, and as any skater knows, we are consumed by learning tricks and exploring the world of skating. We don’t have the time, desire or resources to deepen our understanding of money. Chasing dollars over time skating with friends can be seen as selling out.

In this article, I hope to introduce any curious skaters to Bitcoin and address why I feel the skating community possesses the ability to understand, adopt, and, most importantly, benefit from this incredible technology. Whatsmore, I believe the individual subcultures of skateboarding and Bitcoiners share many things in common. That said, I hope this article serves as a resource for Bitcoiners to better understand skateboard culture should they so desire.

Note: Like skateboarding, it is impossible to understand Bitcoin by simply reading one article. Therefore, this article is meant simply to introduce and help skateboarders understand the basics and preserve their wealth. I will leave the more in-depth explanation of Bitcoin to the many other detailed and insightful articles.

Skateboarding, at its core, is very similar to Bitcoin. It is a decentralized network. This means no one person or entity controls it. The decentralized nature of skateboarding has given its participants an alternative view of the world in many ways. It can steer us away from the traditional lifestyle pushed on us by society. It also provides a lens through which we can see the flaws of said societal norms.

From personal experience, I have found skating to be an activity and culture which provides value to the brain, heart, and soul. However, more importantly, I have noticed that skating shifts one’s perspective, opening the mind towards building a life of intention, not a life pushed upon us.

Bitcoin, like skateboarding, is a decentralized network (no government, CEO, board of directors, or marketing team), and just like skateboarding, no one controls the network. Anyone with an internet connection can become a user and transact with others on the network regardless of location, ethnicity or values. It is truly magic internet money that is globally accessible.

How does Bitcoin benefit a skater? I have heard countless skaters complain about bank issues of all sorts. Traditional banks are constantly boxing out people in various ways. On the other hand, Bitcoin allows anyone to exit the current system to a superior network. For instance, if we travel outside our home country and want to transact with other skaters for a place to stay or some extra gear. We can permissionlessly, trustlessly and securely transact with instant and final settlement on the Bitcoin network. That means no intermediaries, such as our traditional bank.

Although there are fees associated with sending Bitcoin, just like traditional payment methods, they are a mere fraction of traditional fees… I’m talking pennies.

An excellent example of this is a skatepark that costs money to skate. We can pay the fee or simply choose to skate within a different space without fees. Moreover, similar to the Bitcoin network, oftentimes, DIY (Do-it-yourself) skate spots have a much richer culture and more entertaining features to skate than generic, city planned, and built skateparks. This is a result of decentralization.

Additionally, Bitcoin is also what people call “immutable.” This simply means it is not subject to change. It cannot be debased or inflated away. There will always be 21,000,000 Bitcoin, and once a transaction has been processed, it cannot be reversed. No matter what happens, Bitcoin consistently executes what it is designed to do.

But what about updates and changes, i.e. for security purposes? For any change in the network protocol to occur, consensus must be reached amongst the countless miners and nodes that make up the network. Again, no need for trust in any central entity.

We can better understand this by replacing the Bitcoin network with a hypothetical skatepark or DIY. In this scenario, the builders and caretakers of the skate space are equivalent to miners and nodes. For any changes to be made to the space, the majority of the skaters who built and take care of it must reach a consensus for any change to occur. This ensures any and all changes are in the best interest of the community rather than one or two lone rangers.

Let’s transition. A current problem for societies at large is the rising cost of living, predominantly challenging the middle to lower class, especially of late. Compounding inflation, at any rate, means saving our wealth in dollars is akin to holding melting ice cubes.

What has this got to do with skaters? Skateboarding is dangerous, and injuries are an everyday occurrence. Many skaters fall within the poverty lines, even highly skilled top-level skaters with decent sponsorship who live off fixed incomes. The small amount of money they do get is precious, so hidden bank fees or increasing inflation can wipe them out with any unexpected hiccups. A costly medical bill for a lower-class skateboarder isn’t exactly ideal. Add compounding inflation, and it’s a recipe for financial ruin.

You may have heard the term “hard” assets (i.e. gold, a house or land). These are assets whose purchasing power, the ability of our money to purchase goods, cannot be diluted through an expansion in the supply. These assets have a much greater chance of maintaining their value over time. For instance, due to their scarcity, the value of houses and land have held steady or, in most cases, increased over time.

A phenomenal example of scarcity in skateboarding is the Century optics Death lens fisheye. While it is not a hard asset by any stretch of the imagination, it allows us to view scarcity in action. This lens was used in the making of countless skate videos over the last two decades. Many of skateboarding’s prolific tricks that paved the way for skateboarding’s greater evolution were filmed through this exact lens. When it was released, the lens initially sold for around 800 USD. Today, more than 20 years later, they sell for between 1500-3000 USD, quality depending. This price increase is due to their strong demand and scarcity since they have long been out of production.

Similarly, land is scarce simply because there is a finite amount of land on earth. Due to this, prices will almost always rise as supply can’t keep up with demand. And speaking of scarcity, as mentioned, Bitcoin has a fixed supply of 21 million coins. There will never be more than that. Many believe it to be the hardest asset the world has ever seen.

However, since Bitcoin is a new technology, many misconceptions exist. It is absolutely a great habit to question everything, especially something as important as how we choose to store our wealth. So let’s discuss some popular issues brought up in light of Bitcoin.

Governments & Bitcoin

A common issue brought up by skeptics is whether or not the Bitcoin network is something that can withstand attacks from bad actors. Imagine trying to destroy the skateboarding network. No matter how hard local governments try, it is impossible to stop skating because the network is so strong… and distributed. Skateboarding is everywhere, yet nowhere. When we face hurdles, we move on and continue to do what we do no matter what happens.

Take DIYs, for example (DIY spots are decentralized skate spots built entirely by skaters outside any government regulation). They are built by a network of peers that do not ask or value permission. Because of this, they are being built and destroyed daily, yet no increase or decrease in DIYs will diminish the skateboarding network.

Let’s explore this. Some of our greatest landmarks in skating are DIYs. Burnside and FDR are two of the most prominent in the U.S. What started as something small and of no concern to many has resulted in a world-renowned gathering place for skateboarders. This is exactly how Bitcoin started. Quietly and humbly, Satoshi (the person/entity responsible for Bitcoins creation) developed the software, wrote the white paper, and launched Bitcoin. It took a little while to pick up steam as only a tiny handful of people relative to today were involved, yet within a little over a decade, it has become the fastest growing asset the world has ever seen.

The first time I visited FDR in Philadelphia, it was already well established, with its main section rooted in skateboard history. That said, on my successive trips without government intervention, I witnessed the wild growth of FDR. The place seemed to metastasize like an alien evolution. Just like Bitcoin, FDR is fiercely defended by the local skateboarding network from any wrongdoers. The network is willing to do whatever it takes to defend and grow.

Energy Usage

Another Bitcoin misconception has been the energy usage surrounding the mining of coins. Bitcoin’s protocol releases new coins to the miner that successfully solves a complex mathematical problem first. Simply put, the miners (specialized computers) compete in what is called a “proof of work” system.

However, with the adoption of Bitcoin, we have seen an increase in the number of miners and, conversely, in energy usage. This has caught the attention of many energy usage whistle-blowers but what they fail to understand is that:

Bitcoin obtains 60 percent of its energy from renewable resources. For broader reference, the average renewable usage in all other economic industries is less than 20 percent. Bitcoin uses three times the amount of renewables than all other leading industries. In actuality, they may look to Bitcoin as a leader in the renewable energy space.
Through miners, we can remove the need for trusted intermediaries, allowing us to operate this unparalleled trustless, permissionless, secure peer-to-peer payment network.

FUD

What is FUD? It stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. If you have heard about Bitcoin within the mainstream, chances are it was portrayed in a negative light. Without going too deep into the reasoning as to why this is the case, let’s look at this FUD from the perspective of skateboarding.

Skateboard FUD is everywhere. Skate stoppers, “no skating” signs on buildings, security guards, overzealous civilians, etc. FUD is propagated by people who do not understand skateboarding and see it as an unnecessary activity. Yes, skateboarders have at times defaced public property, which I don’t condone. However, more often than not, there is a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge that causes people to harbor negative views. The same is the case for Bitcoin.

Bitcoin does not give a shit about the news, governments, or individuals who haven’t taken the time to understand it. Over the years, there has been an endless barrage of FUD aimed at Bitcoin. It is more than likely that you’ve read or heard this FUD. But anyone who takes the time to understand Bitcoin will ultimately realize it is a force for good. Unlike fiat, Bitcoin is a fair and just way to hold our wealth, and it benefits everyone who chooses to store wealth in it. Those who spend the necessary time trying to understand, more often than not, clearly see the reasons for its use.

Although some individuals and governments seek to benefit from the demise of Bitcoin, those people most likely have something to lose in the face of Bitcoins’ success, and the fairness and equality that Bitcoin promotes are probably not on their minds. This is analogous to the famous skatepark by the name of Love Park.

Skateboarders turned Love Park in Philadelphia into a Mecca for skateboarding and a less hostile place for everyday civilians in the area. The park was previously reported to have been overrun with crime and other issues. Due to the growing skate scene, the crime rates dropped, and the plaza became a safer place for civilians. Even the plaza architect himself championed skateboarding at Love Park. Skateboarders came from all over the world to spend time there. Yet the city deployed massive amounts of time, money, and energy into stopping skateboarding from happening there. Years of harassment and issues ensued until the plaza was torn out and rebuilt with devastating effects on the Philadelphia skateboard community.

The destruction of Love Park can be likened to centralized authorities spreading FUD about Bitcoin. One side is looking to be left alone and enjoy a specific facet of life while the other continues its foul power trip. If we skate anywhere other than a skatepark, we’re bound to experience issues. If we seek to learn about Bitcoin within any traditional government-controlled portal, chances are we’ll find FUD.

Freedom

Both Bitcoin and skating offer personal freedoms. I have often heard skateboarders comment on the sense of freedom garnered from skating. Not coincidently, freedom is a central talking point regarding Bitcoin. Bitcoin and the word “freedom” often go hand-in-hand. As Bitcoin is voluntary by nature, it offers freedom as it gives the user control over their capital. Which many would argue is the basis for a quality life.

Truth & Equality

In both the Bitcoin and skating community, there is a constant search for truth and equality. Bitcoin has this ability to open one’s mind, causing them to give back and create change, which I would argue is a net positive. One of many beautiful narratives you come across in the world of Bitcoin is, “Fix the money, fix the world.” If you truly understand and value Bitcoin, you de facto value the rights of all humans on earth. One could argue there may be no greater basis for respecting someone than valuing their individual freedoms.

Acceptance

One final attribute I’d like to share regarding Bitcoin and skateboarding is the unquestioned understanding and acceptance they both promote. With Bitcoin and Skating, I tend to notice a phenomenon whereby once someone invests time into studying Bitcoin/skating, there is an increase in their acceptance and understanding of the community. For example, no matter one’s level or dedication, skateboarders can travel the world and connect with other skaters at spots with little to no issue of acceptance.

Although skateboarding puts its participants through a lot, I believe the injury and failure rate in skateboarding builds individual characteristics that allow us to better understand and relate to other skaters. This understanding can create respect for one another regardless of our political views or religious beliefs. As soon as we see another person skate, we immediately get an idea of what they have been through to reach the level at which they’re at.

To end, like skaters, Bitcoiners share a deep understanding and respect for one another regardless of political or religious beliefs. This acceptance and ability to relate is a crucial building block that allows these communities/networks to grow and thrive.

The opportunity for people to connect from uniquely different places or lifestyles yet have a basic understanding and acceptance of one another can result in endless possibilities and after all, what’s greater than feeling connected and accepted in life and among peers?

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