We have given value to all sorts of things throughout history, from seashells to gold bars to lines of code. However, money was always a strange and elusive concept. It was a mythical system that only worked because we believed it did. Yet, we continue to trust it, even when its flaws have been exposed.
In an op-ed titled “Bitcoin, Mescaline and Parallel Worlds,” Leah highlighted how uniquely Bitcoin operates, appearing more akin to magic than traditional finance. She referenced Fortune journalist David Z. Morris’ book, “Bitcoin is Magic: Internet Money, Memetic Warfare, and the End of Mere Reality,” which explored how Bitcoin has operated as a symbol that altered the collective human consciousness, much like how the repetitive use of rites, symbols and rituals can change how we think of the world around us. Morris showed how these shared belief systems were “real” for those participating, from monetary systems and language to conspiracy theories and magical internet money. Through devotion to the practice, Bitcoin turned an otherwise meaningless string of characters into a global communal movement with economic and political implications.
Just look at the collection of shapes on your screen right now. You and I have agreed to interpret these as meaning-laden symbols more or less the same way. But for anyone who is unfamiliar with the English language, my secret message remains mute, hidden behind code.
— Leah Callon-Butler
Beyond technology and belief systems, the culture has grown to a point where a sense of community extends beyond the monetary value of Bitcoin. It has become a movement that seeks to break down power structures, give individuals more control over their lives, and be part of a community that believes in the power of decentralized systems.