Accepted paper:

'HODLING' liberty. Being stuck in Bitcoin future salvation

Authors:

Matan Shapiro (University of Bergen)

Paper short abstract:

Presenting a detailed ethnographic account of the recent 'pump' and 'dump' in Bitcoin value, in this paper I will analyze the structural dynamics and social rhythm of being stuck in Bitcoin future salvation.

Paper long abstract:

Wild value fluctuation and apprehensive regulators still encumber the contemporary cryptocurrency ecosystem with Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (also known as 'FUDs'). In Bitcoin sociality, such market unpredictability often also becomes radically affective, as periodic collective scares prompt owners to abruptly sell their holdings. Yet, selling-out is a tricky gamble. While you may indeed make profit in state-controlled ('fiat') currency, you might also suffer huge potential revenue loss if Bitcoin's value will indeed one day 'rise to the moon'. After all, the Bitcoin space is replete with tragic myths foretelling the stories of those who sold their holdings only to bitterly bemoan later on due to exponential surges in value. Dedicated analysts, early-adopters and cryptocurrency gurus across the web thus routinely advise community members to 'HODL': 'Hold On to Dear Life'. The longer you HODL, the less Bitcoin you spend, the richer you become in the future. Based on my ongoing fieldwork at the Bitcoin Embassy in Tel Aviv, I nonetheless argue that a 'HODLING' strategy is paradoxical. While persons initially buy Bitcoin to liberate themselves from intermediaries, third-parties and the Big Other more generally, economic autonomy here becomes contingent on hazy potentialities. In generic cosmological terms, 'decentralised Freedom' itself thereby becomes intrinsic to centralised 'enslavement', and vice-versa. Presenting a detailed ethnographic account of the recent 'pump' and 'dump' in Bitcoin value, in this paper I analyse the structural dynamics and social rhythm of being stuck in Bitcoin future salvation.

panel P112
Being stuck. Stillness in times of mobility