Well, in 2017 you can probably say you were cool enough to like Bitcoin before it went mainstream. That edgy band you used to see in bars for a few bucks now has Top 40 hits and plays stadiums for hundreds of bucks a ticket. Or thousands. But what happens if/when the crowds die down?
Major network NBC News today ran a feature article titled “Middle America Is Crazy in Love With Bitcoin”, which even suggested people who aren’t buying bitcoin are missing out.
Even the headline stands in stark contrast to mainstream Bitcoin news reports of yore.
The article presented several stories from the U.S. middle and working-class — one Delaware bus driver used a BitPay debit card to buy a pool for his kids. An ironworker from Hoboken, NJ compared it to buying Apple stock at ten cents. Both men have encouraged their families and co-workers to join in.
Where’s All the Dark Bitcoin News Now?
It’s a far cry from a few years ago, when every Bitcoin story in the mainstream media seemed designed to marginalize, even discourage, bitcoin use. It was a geeky hobby that would never have real value. They were sure to include references to the Silk Road, drugs, exchange hacks, mythical hitmen and terrorist fundraisers.
It’s refreshing to see the NBC piece contained none of this. However, it did include a caution from one University of Texas professor that cryptocurrency values can be volatile, and are unsuitable for “mom and pop investors”. He also warned of scammers looking to exploit the naive.
In truth, that’s probably all good advice.
Also, there’s nothing like a good bull run to generate positive media coverage. If there’s suddenly a big crash, expect news outlets to find plenty of economic experts to say “I told you so“. Bitcoin has now died 151 times, according to 99Bitcoins.
Too Much Good Mainstream News, and It’s All About Price
But is there a danger in Bitcoin going too mainstream? Especially if the focus is very much on rapid price gains, as it appears to be. The “Bitcoin community” talks of decentralized technology, censorship-resistance and non-government money. It argues about block sizes, forks and cryptographic signature data.
The NBC story points out one very interesting point: the average consumer and price speculator doesn’t seem to care about Bitcoin’s technology or driving philosophy. How much of Bitcoin’s current market cap is only interested in gains? How much is BTC actually worth if it stands on tech and principles alone?
There’s the classic investors’ aphorism about getting out of the market when ordinary people (variously shoe-shine boys, cooks, taxi drivers or beggars) start offering stock tips. Positive mainstream news attention could either be a harbinger of mass acceptance, or the beginning of the end. At least for the current bull run, anyway.
What do you think of mainstream news coverage of Bitcoin? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via NBC