Friday 21 May 2021 5:10 pm

Crypto dopamine levels plummet - time for the real world

Yesterday I had a very, very long lunch in Soho. Great friends, outrageous food and the type of social necessity that was wrenched from us about 15 months ago.

London felt normal, not bloated with desperate alfresco gatherings in the rain or cold, but just good old London. People going indoors to eat, having fun, talking a little bit too loudly, but being considerate to service staff, like benign bears coming out of hibernation and saying please.

Is it possible, really possible that the New Abnormal will resemble the life that we once knew? Are those two jabs in the arm going to let us enjoy the good things in life that we’ve worked hard for? Do we deserve these good things when we look around the world? What do we give in return?

Infinite questions, but perhaps the bigger ones can be avoided for the time of a long lunch. Time to chew over life, take the world from your shoulders and just be happy.

Be that as it may, but what was new yesterday was actually spending money on food and drink, paying the premium for quality and all of that goodness. It was never cheap to do so, especially in London, but it felt really, really weird and bizarrely prodigal to do so yesterday. Something as normal as that felt strange.

That’s because our dopamine hits haven’t been coming from human conversation, friends, pubs, restaurants or gigs… and they certainly haven’t come from travel.

We want to win

Those who are part of the community that read this column have been getting high for 15 months from crypto highs. Higher and higher until there was no air to breathe… and who doesn’t love the smell first thing in the morning of a sea of green when checking crypto portfolios? We’re only human after all, we want to win.

Where many of us would have been if it wasn’t from banging crypto inflation is hard to say, but crypto event organisers would have gone out of business if it hadn’t been for crypto inflation and a lot of sad people would have probably been more sad if their crypto wallets hadn’t grown so fat.

In many ways, the pandemic lockdown pain has been sweetened by the march of crypto, an almost uncanny plus size, an equal and opposite reaction; to quote the founder of calculus and gravity. A Godsend.

Naturally, we know what happened this week and it would be unfathomably boring to repeat all of that nonsense that has been spewed out from so-called experts on money, FUDers and told-you-so traditionalists.

But this crash might be just as uncanny as the lockdown ascendant. As soon as lockdown in the UK eases, at exactly the same time that lockdown eases, crypto crashes like a stone. Are these things connected?

I reckon.

Because nobody can live in a bubble for too long, be that happiness, isolation or financial. Nobody wants to sit at home, counting their pennies and Satoshis like Croesus or Midas.

People need to spend and flash their cash… not on online orders of unneeded goods, not on consoling pets as if they’re hanging on to their daemons in a Philip Pullman trilogy. As for NFTs, I’ll stop now.

People need to operate in the real world as they did before. Opening their wallets, tipping as much as they can, tasting new foods or foods they haven’t tasted for a year. That’s what is real, that’s what matters, not crypto candles or DeFi or whatever.

The music always starts again

Of course, people can’t go on eating and drinking forever, the music always has to stop, as much as it did temporarily with crypto prices this week. But the music always starts again, you just have to be within listening range.

Go out, splash your cash, remember the things you once loved, forget your so-called dwindling crypto assets and get a few drinks down you. But there’s a time and a place for all things. Give it a month of revelry and remembrance of times gone by, let it all hang out. You deserve it.

But then come back. There’s work to be done and it can’t be done with a New Hangover, it can only be done with a clear mind. After your long lunches, imagine yourself homeless in Gaza right now or in India, ill and unable to find any oxygen, or anywhere in the world without the optional privilege of a long lunch in Soho.

Time to create a better ‘normal’, time to save what is a very, very wonderful world. Drink and be merry, but don’t lose sight of the goal. The next round is the most important one. I’ll drink to that. Cheers!

Monty Munford is a tech journalist and the Chief Evangelist and core contributor to the Sienna Network project. He also runs his own crypto podcast

He WAS a keynote speaker/emcee/moderator/interviewer at prestigious events around the world until Covid destroyed his conference speaking career… until 2023. He has spoken at more than 200 global events.

He was previously a weekly tech columnist for Forbes in New York, the Telegraph in the UK and continues to write regularly for the BBC, The Economist, The FT and… City AM.