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What Bitcoin’s Civil War Taught Me About Media Manipulation on Both Sides

I used to think that Bitcoin’s scaling drama would be over after the split to Bitcoin Cash. I also thought that those promoting Bitcoin’s use as a peer-to-peer currency were the “good guys” of the two sides. I was wrong on both counts.

Last week I noticed an article about Portsmouth, a nearby town I know very well, by Bitcoin.com. The article touted a local shop as “Bitcoin-only,” and mentioned the dozens of local shops that accepted it as payment. The problem is, the shop itself accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies, especially Dash, and even stopped accepting Bitcoin for a while, and the local businesses receive over 80% of their cryptocurrency sales in Dash. The article, however, mentioned Dash not once, despite embedding the video of my CNN appearance where I’m highlighted spending only Dash all over town. After I complained, the word “only” from “Bitcoin only” was removed from the headline, and the video, the single strongest piece of news about the article’s central subject, was removed entirely. Anything to avoid mentioning Dash at all.

The experience taught me an ugly lesson about the communities behind two of the largest cryptocurrencies in the world.

There’s an “ends justify the means” approach to truth-bending

Both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash’s communities are out to push one narrative: their coin is the one that’s being used everywhere, and will win mass adoption. Granted, just about every coin under the sun is looking for the same outcome for their project, however most understand that this is not yet the case, that we all have a long ways to go before wide adoption is achieved, or one coin is crowned undisputed king. The difference is, both Bitcoins want to force the narrative today that their coin has already won wide adoption, facts be damned, and are willing to go to crazy lengths to manipulate the narrative to fit that conclusion. Because of that, I’d call both Bitcoin communities more dishonest than those of most other coins.

The fight isn’t over the best tech, but the “one true Bitcoin”

Bitcoin grew on its own merits as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that anyone could use anywhere and no one could censor or stop. Now, however, the struggle isn’t between which is better, but which is the real Bitcoin. This is a narrative struggle that only members of the two crypto cults really care about. The rest of the world doesn’t care for this holy war over a sacred title, it cares about the best technology that can enable the creation of wealth and free the world. That used to be Bitcoin, but it isn’t anymore, and the more people focus on making something “more Bitcoin” instead of better, the more it’ll fall behind in actual usefulness.

The narrative completely leaves out cryptocurrency advancements over the past few years

Bitcoin pursues complicated and experimental scaling solutions that will allow it to be efficiently used for smaller transactions as it was before, under the hubris of assuming everyone will use it instead of another more useful coin simply “because it’s Bitcoin.” There’s a similar frustrating attitude with Bitcoin Cash, with tough talk about experimenting with different double-spend solutions and considering developments to improve privacy. Dash already solved both those, four years ago. This attitude of ignorance about present-day tech and the advancements in the rest of the cryptospace presents an acute competitive disadvantage, with other projects able to sneak up and out-compete the two blinded projects.

Ultimately, neither Bitcoin nor Bitcoin Cash will win out

Then it hit me: neither Bitcoin nor Bitcoin Cash will be the cryptocurrency that wins out in the end. When you’re fighting over which is the true Bitcoin rather than which benefits humanity, when you ignore the rapidly developing technology in the space in favor of years-old tech, when you curate a media narrative that presents a false picture of the present state of cryptocurrency adoption and deliberately block out information that would run counter to that narrative, you will lose. Both projects had the opportunity to create something special that the whole world uses. They have instead opted to engage in a holy war. They have their reward.


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