A one-year retrospective from a Canadian Bitcoiner who lived through the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and found a lifeline in the Bitcoin community.
This is an opinion editorial by Boomer, a long-time and active member of the financial independence/retire early (FIRE) movement and a contributor at Bitcoin Magazine.
It has been exactly one year since I started my Bitcoin journey, and after being inspired by meeting several amazing Canadian Bitcoiners over the past few weeks, I want to share my story. In some ways, my orange-pilling has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me, but it has also been extremely trying. I guess you can compare it to “The Hero’s Journey.”
I’ve been a working-level economist in the Canadian government for about eight years. I’m fortunate to have a career as a public servant where I’m able to help people. I feel honored to serve Canadians and make a positive difference for my country. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I did my part to help out. I followed mandates and restrictions, and I genuinely felt like I was doing the right thing.
The isolation and loneliness were very tough. As an extrovert who’s used to a lively and collaborative environment where routine and the sharing of ideas and thoughts were important, working from home was absolute torture. For years, I had been quite active in the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) community and started a financial literacy coaching company. Like most people in the FIRE movement, I dismissed Bitcoin as an interesting but likely passing fad. I could see that long-lasting pandemic lockdowns would likely cause supply shortages, and the combination of central bank money printing and government stimulus would be inflationary in the longer term. I started to consider certain inflation hedges for my own investment portfolio and thought that maybe my coaching service could differentiate itself in that way. I started my orange-pill journey with the intention of learning how exactly bitcoin would fit into an inflation-hedging strategy, but I knew it had a place.
I’ve been an avid podcast listener for well over a decade, and I will often pick a topic and listen to as many podcasts as I can about it until I’m ready to jump to a new topic. I went into learning about “crypto” in the same way. While I could see and understand the general economic aspects of bitcoin and how it could be digital gold, I’ve always lacked the computer science and technology skills to feel confident about jumping into the world of cryptocurrencies. I guess I just felt too intimidated to really dive in. I couldn’t make the distinction between crypto and bitcoin, but when I decided to commit to learning, I went in with an open mind. I wish I could say that I recognized these altcoins as shitcoins right away, but I didn’t. Despite not truly understanding what they were, I created a modest portfolio of the top-10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization in an attempt to mimic what a cryptocurrency index fund would look like.
In the meantime, I was listening to podcasts from Robert Breedlove, Peter McCormack and Pomp, who were all telling me that bitcoin was the only true cryptocurrency. I remember listening to Breedlove’s series with Michael Saylor in mid to late June 2021 and feeling things start to fall into place. This is when I really started down the rabbit hole. I ordered a copy of “The Bitcoin Standard,” and I spent the summer consuming as much Bitcoin content as I possibly could. I created a Twitter account devoted strictly to Bitcoin in September, and I’ve been trying to contribute as much as I’m able to the Bitcoin community ever since.
If summer 2021 was my introduction to Bitcoin, fall was a honeymoon period. I had so much excitement and I wanted to share it with as many people as I possibly could. Since COVID-19 restrictions eased a bit, I set up a FIRE meetup in early October to talk about how bitcoin fits into a FIRE lifestyle. Over the years, I’ve organized about 10 of these kinds of meetups where people share ideas on how to save money, maximize credit card rewards and live with purpose. A normal turnout for one of these events was around eight people; my Bitcoin event brought out a dozen. I didn’t realize it at the time, and looking back on it, I know that I wasn’t anywhere near qualified for it. It was around this time that a local Bitcoiner met with me for a coffee. The first time that I talked about Bitcoin with a Bitcoiner in person.
By the end of 2021, I had completely sold out of my altcoins and was completely in bitcoin. The song of the shitcoin siren is tempting, and most of us fall for it at some point in our journey. Thankfully, I didn’t learn this lesson the hard way. I was able to sell out of my positions at a slight loss, and I consider that loss the price of my Bitcoin education. It was around this time that I also learned the importance of self-custody.
As anyone who’s dived deeply into the rabbit hole knows, there are some parts of the journey that make you question previously held beliefs and can change your views on certain aspects of the world around you. I realize that this is tough for everyone, but try doing it alone — during another COVID lockdown — while you live in Ottawa in the winter.
By the time the Freedom Convoy was being reported on the news, I was already questioning a lot of the things I was seeing. When the convoy began to make its way to Ottawa, I decided to follow it. I literally drove alongside the convoy across several Canadian provinces and saw people waving Canadian flags as they gathered on overpasses. It was an absolutely surreal experience that I’ll never forget.
It lifted my spirits to see “community” again after two years of lockdowns. It was also heartwarming to see Quebecers and Albertans chatting in broken English at the protests. I grew up in the 1990s, at a time when there was a genuine rift in Canada between French-speaking Quebec and the rest of Canada. This divide was extra impactful on me, since my mother is francophone and my father is anglophone. Something special happened in Ottawa this winter, and it saddens me that many — maybe even most — Canadians still haven’t realized it yet.
I was aware of what the Bitcoin community was doing to support the Freedom Convoy. I followed the Twitter threads and listened to the podcasts. I knew that Canadian Bitcoiners were stepping up to do what they felt was right in order to support the movement. I wanted to help so badly, but I was afraid. I was afraid that if I contributed in any way, I would be putting my career at risk. I also knew that I was just some pleb with 250 Twitter followers that nobody knew. How could I possibly help, even if I wasn’t a coward? At its core, Bitcoin is about proof of work, and I hadn’t done the work at the time.
I was invited to a Bitcoin meetup organized on Twitter that happened while the convoy was in town. Several Bitcoiners that I had been following for a while had come to the capital to experience what was happening in person. I can only speak for myself, but friendships built through orange-pilling feel special. This was the kind of community I was searching for.
In the months since the trucks left Ottawa, I’ve made it a focus to learn as much as I can and to let my curiosity take me wherever it goes. There have been times when I felt burned out and pessimistic from the journey. The first year of a Bitcoiner’s path isn’t always easy, but it got better for me as I met others who had gone through it. I’m continually amazed at how much of my preconceived notions have been questioned, and much about how I viewed money and economics has been relearned. It’s humbling and stimulating at the same time. It’s such a unique experience, but I’m grateful for those who have come before me. I know that I’m still early in the journey, and there will be more trying times ahead, but I know that I won’t be dealing with them in solitude.
Every time I meet a fellow Bitcoiner, I leave the conversation feeling energized. It’s amazing how people with all sorts of backgrounds and interests can find common ground in Satoshi Nakamoto’s creation. I’m so incredibly bullish on bitcoin, and I feel this way because of Bitcoiners.
I’m still trying to figure out how I can best contribute to this community, but I know this is where I belong. Maybe just being in the community is enough, but for the past few months, I’ve felt a strong desire to create something. I still don’t know what that is, but I know that I’ll find it if I keep surrounding myself with the great people that I’ve met on my journey. I came for the inflation hedge, lived through a moment in Canadian history, and now, I’m sticking around through a bear market to build a better world.
This is a guest post by Boomer. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.