“Can I pay for my part of the pizza in Bitcoin?”
I agreed, downloaded a Blockchain.info wallet, and received my first $10 worth of Bitcoin. It was September of 2013, and I had no idea I would end up working full-time in cryptocurrency, receiving it exclusively for payment, and using it to live on.
My ideological roots
To understand my journey, you’d have to know my motivation. I care deeply about human freedom. That classifies me closest to a libertarian, though for me it goes far beyond a simple political philosophy: I want everyone on this planet to be as free, happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous as possible, and I’m willing to work and make sacrifices to advance that goal. Since, sadly, those who think this way are so few and far between, I sought a place where I could join others like me so we could maximize our efforts. That led me to discover the Free State Project, an initiative to move 20,000 freedom-loving people to a state of 1.3 million in the world’s largest intentional community to date, in order to focus on making a difference for the liberty of humankind. Of course there were many “real life” problems that kept me from making the move, but when you’re serious about your beliefs, sometimes the path forward becomes crystal clear. With almost no money and no job lined up, I packed all my earthly belongings into my two-door Honda Civic and drove the 50 hours from Phoenix, Arizona to Manchester, New Hampshire.
First encounter with Bitcoin
A big part of my philosophical roots was a belief that centrally-controlled money mandated by force, also known as fiat currency, was one of the largest enablers of evil in the world, from rising costs of living to the funding of wars all over the globe, to mass devaluation and currency collapse of the kind that happened in my native Mexico and worse. I was a gold and silver bug, because at that point it was hard to be anything else. I heard some people mentioning Bitcoin, but didn’t look into it and had no idea it was in the same “free money for a free people” category.
Then, on my drive through Chicago on my way to New Hampshire, I met with an acquaintance for lunch. He offered to pay for his half of the pizza with Bitcoin. I downloaded a wallet and accepted my first bit of cryptocurrency. I moved into an apartment above an anarchist social club, coincidentally becoming roommates with Amanda B. Johnson, at that point not yet into cryptocurrency and going by the name Amanda Billyrock. The social club downstairs accepted Bitcoin for payments, but since I only had about $10 worth I couldn’t do much. Until a couple months later when the price went past $1,000, and all of a sudden I had hundreds of dollars worth out of nowhere. From that moment on, I wanted to get as much of this stuff as I could. I did odd jobs, from graphic design to copywriting (yep, I did the copy for these flyers) to giving people rides for Bitcoin. I never used an exchange, and may never even have bought any. I got paid in exchange for services and paid for goods with it, like the peer-to-peer electronic cash it was meant to be.
Taking “the plunge”
In late 2015, I was gainfully employed, yet I really wanted to get more directly involved in digital currency, what I saw was the best way to truly make a difference in the world. So I quit my job, again without anything at all lined up, and got to work seeking out a way to get involved directly in cryptocurrency. Despite still being new to the industry and never having worked as a journalist before, I cold-emailed the editor of Cointelegraph and received a response within minutes. After a tough start trying to get a workable first piece, my very first cryptocurrency and journalism article was published a few days before Christmas.
In addition to my Cointelegraph writing, I taught martial arts on the side and organized activism, all strictly for Bitcoin. I paid any bill I could in Bitcoin, and sold some for cash when I needed to. Later in 2016 I closed my bank account to live entirely fiat-free. I was sold by the whole line of “be your own bank” and supplanting the current system, so I wanted to actually live it in practice to see if it was true.
When Bitcoin failed me
Then, towards the end of 2016, I ran into trouble. Bitcoin started to feel the effects of its hard one-megabyte block size limit, and transactions started to become slow and expensive. For casual crypto day traders this made little difference, as they were mostly trading on exchanges off-chain, and several-dollar fees didn’t matter when moving large sums. For someone like me using it as everyday money, however, it was rough. I remember walking around the shopping mall for 30 minutes waiting for a transaction to clear so I could receive my Gyft card, waiting hours for a confirmation to be able to load my Wirex card to pay for food (it didn’t confirm in time, I had to skip lunch that day). One time I waited so long for a confirmation that my phone died, removing all access to my funds.
The final straw was when I tried to send two Bitcoin transactions with several-dollar fees each, and they were stuck without confirmations for over two weeks. After one failed, I attempted to send it somewhere else with a much higher fee, only to have the original transaction automatically rebroadcast, resulting in a double spend. This was supposed to be an edge case, something that didn’t realistically happen in the real world, yet here I had accidentally double-spent, with all of my Bitcoin stuck in unconfirmed limbo, unable to get it out. That’s what completely killed any desire to use Bitcoin anymore.
Just as with the rest, what happened next was simply a case of logical conclusions. I moved to New Hampshire because it made the most sense for someone looking to advance a free society. I closed my bank account and went all Bitcoin because that was the best way to be free of central banking and test if peer-to-peer digital currency worked. When Bitcoin failed me, I could either give up on my experiment, or push forward. I chose to push forward. The only coin that even remotely made sense as the next digital cash was Dash. In May of 2016, after being introduced to the Dash community by Tao of Satoshi via Twitter, I wrote a pair of articles after interviewing legendary developer Moocowmoo, and caught up with the work of my old roommate Amanda (who both went deep with Dash for her former generic crypto show The Daily Decrypt, and later Dash Detailed and the now-quintessential Dash School). That sealed the deal for me. I started using it, converting whatever Bitcoin I still made to it, negotiating random jobs for it, etc., way back in late 2016. In December of that year, Mastermined rebooted the old failed Dash Force proposal, offering tips in Dash for various community activities. I helped out to participate in this grand experiment, which snowballed into obsession. Before I knew it, Dash was the majority of my income. I later got hired by Dash Force and then became a partner, and I kissed Bitcoin goodbye for good, switching gears to go Dash-only.
Now, how is there even an argument anymore?
When I went all Dash, it was crazy and a bit of a risk, but now it’s the only thing that makes sense by far. Bitcoin keeps going up in value but keeps going down in utility as far as everyday coffee-buying is concerned, and Litecoin seems more concerned in being a testing grounds for Bitcoin and speculation than being used as regular money. Bitcoin Cash is trying, but it’s still very embroiled in Bitcoin drama wars, and is so far behind Dash in terms of community, funding, and adoption. Over 500 businesses worldwide take Dash, including BitCart, which I use extensively. There are local businesses, online retailers, debit cards, all manner of services, not to mention a crazy $4 million monthly treasury to pay for just about anything.
The cryptoverse is a big place. There’s so many projects out there trying to make a difference through their own special way. As far as digital cash, the people’s money, the way we can stop using central banking and gain individual financial freedom, Dash is king. Trust me: if it weren’t, I’d be living off of something else by now.
Great article Joel, you kept it 100. I love real talk and believe all crypto folks will resonate to your journey and experience to date. Good job 🙂
Thanks mate, sometimes arguments and facts/figures only go so far. Real life stories can’t be refuted: they just are. Take them or leave them.
I have been thinking of seriously getting into Dash, and I am having a bit of trouble deciding how to do it. What smart phone (android) wallet to use. Should I get a trezor hardware wallet for extra security? How do I start obtaining dash as exchanging my money for Dash currency is likely my best option. I want to easy into it. Something I can put 20 bucks a paycheck into, and let it grow and see where I can use it.
I tried to do some basic internet research, but didn’t really get the answers I need. I was thinking about waiting till evolution gets out before getting into it as many of the enhancements it would provide sounds like it would make the whole experience of getting into it easier. Yet as the dollar value of Dash goes up it seems better to get into it sooner than later.
I was wondering what would be the best place for me to plant my internet feet to get some info, or people I can talk to about this? I love to take advice from you Joel, but if you had to hand hold each newbie that ran across your great articles on the internet you would never have time for anything. So this is my blind flailing outreach to how best to get into this community and such. Just as a Dash user. I am not really looking into mining, or masternodes, or the like. Just want to get currency and learn how to use currency as Dash.
Any advice is welcome at this point. I apologize if I am asking in the least ideal place, but I am familiar with this site. I thought it couldn’t hurt to say something here.
Thanks for your great articles, and for the time and patience of the community for yet another newb.
I will keep you in mind for some newbie articles on DiscoverDash.com. For wallets, the regular Dash wallet for Android is best, and yes, if you’re planning on having significant amounts it’s worth getting a hardware wallet. If you care about financial privacy use a service like Wall of Coins to buy for cash. Get active in the Dash community to see where you can find your place to earn it for work, dashchat.org is a great place to get started there.
I have took your advice, and I am trying to expand into the Dash Sphere a bit more. I hope you don’t mind that I sent you a friend request on the dashchat.org location you mentioned. The Discord service. I would appear as JarethGk as I do in many locations. Having a bit of trouble downloading the android Dash Wallet app on my phone. Just says “downloading” forever, and doesn’t seem to progress. I will look into Wall of Coins when I have more time, but it looks like a good place to start in obtaining some dash. Hope I can get a grasp for this soon enough. Thank you very much for some initial help here. It is very much appreciated! I hope I have a good Dash newbie experience!
Do not follow his advice and close your bank accounts and credit cards. Joel isn’t able to finance a car or get a mortgage and thinks this is some kind of freedom. Having crypto doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fiat; they are not mutually exclusive.
You can be a crypto enthusiast and still be able to maintain a good credit score so you can get a mortgage later in life if you ever need.
Only a fool would consider anything in this article “advice.” It’s clearly a personal story. Everything has tradeoffs, but I’ve personally found that, in my life, being fiat-free has had many more benefits (especially being able to hold 100% of my earnings in something whose purchasing power grows significantly by the month).
You’ve been such a consistent Twitter troll that I had to block you. Remember to stay respectful here or you’ll get blocked here too.