About six months ago, I went to a barbecue at a friend’s house. He had been pestering me about bitcoin for weeks and I had been trying my best to fend off his enthusiasm. I had known about bitcoin for a few years, mostly through the months I spent reporting on the Silk Road online marketplace, and an odd, somewhat regrettable trip I took to stake out the house of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, one of the men who had been rumored to be the mysterious — and still anonymous — founder of the cryptocurrency. Neither of those experiences filled me with much confidence, but at the barbecue my friend showed me the ease with which one could buy bitcoin on a phone and talked about gains of up to $500 a day on a relatively modest investment.
That night, I went home and downloaded coinbase, the now ubiquitous app that provides the easiest onramp into cryptoworld.
Since then, I’ve been caught up like millions of people across the world in cryptomania. To educate myself on what I was getting into, I took a crash course in price charts, cryptography theory, Asian market analysis and basic trading principles, all of which I hoped would help make me a financial powerhouse. None of this has worked, of course, but as bitcoin prices keep going up, more and more people like myself are getting sucked into this alluring and admittedly somewhat shadowy world.
This segment originally aired December 11, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.