What a time to be alive used to be a euphoric and jubilant phrase that celebrated life and the world we lived in.
Under lockdown, the phrase is now used ironically as that celebrated world feels more like an Old and Lost World. Another Eden destroyed and lost. Covid is the New Flood.
As usual, we have to take the piss to prevent the terror. Everybody uses the phrase-that-is-almost-a-meme on social media to emotion-signal that they are resilient and satirical. I think I preferred virtue-signalling to this nonsense.
As Colonel Kurtz in the film Apocalypse Now should have signed off with: “The horror, the horror… what a time to be alive”.
However, all of that changed this week when it was surely a good time to be alive for the so-called private investors who turned capitalism on its head and via Reddit crashed the short market.
Finally, after Occupy Wall Street and all such analogue movements that now seem so terribly old-fashioned and ‘socially neared’. What, meet in the street and get cold? Get bashed up by the Rozzers? Change nothing in the end? Fuck that.
Surely, it’s much easier and intelligent to come together as a digital crowd and then shake things up by going after vulnerable capital institutions who were defenceless and do it from your own lockdown home.
This story has far to go before it dies (what a time to be dead etc), but its ramifications are already affecting the crypto world where other private investors were previously changing the world. At time of writing, Elon Musk had kind-of shilled bitcoin and the price was up 15% in minutes.
The wider and long-term vision, however, is what a lot in the crypto world have known since Satoshi put pen to White paper and that the current financial system is skewed, prejudicial and broken.
Since the Financial Crisis of 2008, some of the smart citizens of the world have stopped trusting the centralised system that destabilies society by creating wildly unequal states of wealth. You would have to be the 1% or crazy not to.
By coming together on Reddit, others have finally realised that things can be changed by group action and from their sofas. Private investors coming together in a crowd can change everything. It would be interesting to see how many of them have a financial interest in crypto. What’s the crossover? High, I would imagine.
Moreover, a major UK report on crypto that was very strictly embargoed and released at 7am this morning (January 29th) shows how private UK investors are not only clamouring for vaccinations, they are clamouring for cryptocurrencies.
According to data from ‘cryptocurrency exchange and custodian’ Gemini, not only are 13.5% of the UK population crypto investors, a figure that is up 152% on previous studies, but more than 40% are women.
That means two out of five crypto investors are female, still below what it should be, but far outstrips the percentage of women in the industry.
I run a crypto podcast Blockspeak and to my shame, 90% of guests have been men. That’s not through choice and lack of effort, but because not enough women run crypto companies. So female investors are very good news.
It’s worth going through the data of the 2,000-person report while a pinch of salt must be taken when there is self-interest here from Gemini as that ‘cryptocurrency exchange and custodian’.
However, it’s still interesting and it’s mostly Generation Z and millennials who are piling in, but not those who are particularly wealthy as 91.8% of current and previous cryptocurrency investors record a household income of under £100,000.
Those aged between 18 and 44 years old take up 85% and overall nearly 50% plan to increase their investments over the next 12 months.
“This new data demonstrates an increasingly diverse base engaging with crypto. We expect the reach of crypto to widen further, particularly with the opportunity to educate the 38.7% of respondents who either know nothing at all about crypto or do not know enough to invest,” said Blair Halliday, Head of UK at Gemini.
Well, he would say that, but this is all probably true and I hope Gemini’s next report interviews those in the Reddit groups and see how they regard crypto. Now, that’s something I would clamour for.
There are new dangers ahead for crypto, however, and that may come from the New-Pump-And-Dumpers from Reddit themselves when their list of shorted companies becomes restricted and the regulators fire back at their pitchforks… the next easy target is surely crypto.
I note Dogecoin price madness at the moment, I also see the financial system creaking, I also see cash disappear and a digital 5G weird Matrix future where tokens will be the currency of choice.
But when anybody has power they don’t like to lose it, whether it’s the US, Ukraine, Uganda, Belarus, Egypt, Russia, The Fed or the Bank of England. And don’t remember that Arab Springs, Orange revolutions or Capitol Hill stormings have all failed with the quaint notion of people on the street trying to change things. The system will fight back.
This is a crisis for the traditional financial system and they are going to have to move fast and change things before things go out of control for them, rather like how the virus has done and we know what’s happening there.
Maybe, even, the financial system will stop dissing crypto for its volatility and its so-called weaknesses and whales. Maybe they’ll come to crypto for support.
Who knows? Strange days. Lenin once said that ‘for decades, nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen’. Well, this week a whole century has happened.
So, time to end these words. You know what’s coming and I apologise in advance… but what a time to be alive.
Monty Munford is a renowned Tech journalist and has his own podcast https://blockspeak.io