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Despite thousands of ‘Bitcoin Explained’ blog posts, the most popular cryptocurrency remains confusing and impenetrable. We spoke to someone who believes he has a handle on it.  

“I think I understand it,” said Tony Mendoza, 34, of San Diego, CA. “It’s like a credit card that you can never pay off and the balance fluctuates constantly based on circumstances you cannot control. I’m leaving my hundred dollars in there just to see what happens.”

This is normally where an OnlySky editorial would insist on a brief explanation of bitcoin. If we’re going to mock ignorance, we should do it from a position of authority.  However, no one here at OnlySky has any idea how it works.

“That can’t be right,” said Mendoza. “If these things are only stored on computers, what happens if the computer gets hit by lightning? Or hacked? Or someone comes in and plugs out the machine? What happens to my eighty dollars then?”

A physical coin

Ironically, every article on bitcoin including this one chooses the most counterproductive and least explanatory image to illustrate it: a physical coin.

“I think there’s a record of my sixty dollars on file somewhere,” said Mendoza. “Surely there’s at least a piece of paper somewhere with my name on it?”

Because the entire system is anonymous and decentralized, bitcoin has proved very popular with drug dealers and money launderers. Also, any fraud or scam on the bitcoin platform will also be anonymous and decentralized.

“I’ve been getting constant requests on social media from bitcoin investors,” said Mendoza. “I don’t think my forty dollars will make any of them millionaires!”

Additionally, as the only reason bitcoin increases in value is because people are buying them on the assumption that they will increase in value, is almost indistinguishable from a pyramid scheme. 

“Nope,” said Mendoza, with a tone of weary resignation. “I thought I had it there for a second, but it’s gone. At least I only have twenty dollars tied up in this thing.”

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Barry Purcell lives in Ireland and writes about religion, philosophy, psychology, politics and language for a variety of paper and online publications. He has been involved in campaigns to counteract the...