It’s been a rough week for Bitcoin.
Obviously, the bitcoin protocol is completely unaffected by this mess. However, the events of these past weeks will only fuel the fire with regards to the mainstream media’s already critical position on Bitcoin as a currency, payment system and store of value. As Eric Voorhees put it in his open letter entitled “Some word for my friends”:
[…] for the rest of the week, all hell will break lose in the media. It will be blamed on MtGox, it will be blamed on Bitcoin, it will be blamed on the “bug,” and it will, more than anything, be blamed on the “lack of regulation.” Pundits and “experts” of all types will weigh in on the calamity. It will be world news in a matter of hours.
Indeed, it’s been an ugly week, and things are about to get uglier.
As more information comes to light, talking heads will bring their opinion to the commentary meant to criticize Bitcoin and strip it of its legitimacy. Then will come the wave of politicians and central banks around the world calling for strict regulation or an outright ban. Get ready because we’re about to take punches from every angle.
As Bitcoin enthusiasts, friends and family will naturally turn to us for information and guidance as they try to make sense of what they hear in the media. Be prepared for remarks like “Did you hear Bitcoin got hacked?” and “I heard on the news that Bitcoin is a scam”. When this happens, my advice to you is to take a deep breath and keep calm.
Yes, the next chapter in the Mt. Gox saga from the Bitcoin community’s point of view is damage control. Don’t expect the media to do this work for us, they will be working against us. At this crucial point in time, we need passionate, articulate people to educate others about Bitcoin with an objective and balanced point of view.
We are Bitcoin’s PR team.
Here are just a few ways you can take part in this community effort.
- Start a blog or a podcast. At this early stage in the rise of Bitcoin, there is still plenty of room (and need) for quality content creators.
- Start a Meetup. This is a great way to meet other bitcoiners in your local community and gives newcomers a place to come to learn about Bitcoin.
- Speak about Bitcoin at local coworking spaces, meetups, community events, conferences, etc. There is a need for articulate people who can explain the benefits and practical uses of Bitcoin to the lay person in simple terms.
- Talk to your local merchants and try to convince them to accept Bitcoin as payment. Tell them about simple solutions which allow them to accept BTC without taking on the risk of volatility. Sell them on the idea that they will be supported by the Bitcoin community and may even get free publicity as they catch the attention of local media.
- Build stuff. 2014 is the year we build infrastructure. We’re still waiting for the killer app that makes Bitcoin go mainstream. Here’s a freebee: go out and build the WhatsApp of Bitcoin.
These are just some of the ways you can lend your time and voice to the cause and contribute to building the new digital economy.
As stated earlier, the coming weeks and months will not be easy. In the midst of this chaos, we need leaders who will to stand up and be ambassadors of Bitcoin. Now, more than ever, we must use our collective voices to help preserve Bitcoin’s reputation and educate on the potential societal shift it can bring to to the world.