There are the many liberative and exciting things that cryptocurrency might someday be and be used for, and then there is what cryptocurrency currently is, and how it actually gets used. Neither, strictly speaking, is anything that a normal person would really need to know or care about unless that normal person is the victim of a ransomware scam, or wants to buy drugs on the internet, or needs to discreetly send $250,000 to Roger Stone. For now, this is what it is: something that’s absolutely real, but also abstracted and howlingly sketchy even relative to other speculative investment vehicles and obscure even when compared to the other memetic fads that our moment’s reigning cretins tend to favor. The discourse around it is absolutely catastrophic, just disastrously obnoxious and dishonest and stilted at every turn, but that is generally true when it comes to conversations about money.
It is not unreasonable to be suspicious of this, both because of who is making the argument and how they are making it. Cryptocurrency, at least as it is sold by its most fervent adherents—the most prominent of those are men already famous for being rich, with a greasy substrate of rise-and-grind influencer types pumping and dumping and posting and posting and posting away just beneath—is rhetorically much more ambitious than the previous innovations that promised to Change The World for the better. Another reason for skepticism is that those previous innovations, when pitched by this type of person, all quickly wound up resolving to abetting ever bleaker new frontiers of serf labor, or expediting and optimizing the process through which aspiring genocidaires around the world get their social media posts in front of the most receptive possible audiences.