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Ahead of the Curve

The Degen Curve Meme in Crypto and Life

I'll be the first to admit, I'm probably not cut out for rollercoaster ride of crypto, so I had to step away from it and write this for some peace of mind. Let's see if I can get through this without looking over at the volatile memecoin charts where I've got money riding on some highly risky memes right now... and there's a good chance they'll either tank hard by the time I finish writing this or they'll hit a god candle.

This is my major play captured as I write... which is teetering on diving into losses if it dips further down... you can see my 'buy' at 4am this morning. Should I have sold the top? Maybe, but I can't tell you how many times I did that, and it wasn't at the top. We'll come back to see how it panned out at the end!

The truth is I've been in crypto since 2014, on and off at first... then pretty deep since 2017. But not just for the magical internet money! While that's nice when you make some wins, there is much more to being 'in crypto' than you might think. To be fair everything I have in there has grown from the small amount of $100 I spent on Bitcoin in 2014. I didn't make a fortune, and there are plenty of tops I should have sold, but I've accumulated enough to 'play around'.

And that's just it... I love experimenting with new technology, but you know what I'm really in it for? The human psychology and the social anthropology of the crypto space. There is no other realm of human engagement that can teach you more about your own ability to manage emotions and behavioral biases or to navigate the eternal forces of cause and effect. Covering the multi-faceted phenomenon of crypto culture is an entire topic in itself, so I'll come back to that another time. I want to explore what we can learn from it and apply to our lives more broadly.

TL;DR - Don't want to read the rest? Watch on YouTube or Listen on Podcast!

Nothing sums up this complexity more simply than the Degen curve meme, which is widely shared among crypto degens. So we're going to take a deeper look at how this meme aligns perfectly with the teachings of Baruch Spinoza, a famous 17th-century Dutch philosopher.

Spinoza's ideas were revolutionary and controversial, leading to his excommunication from the Jewish community and his books being placed on the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books. But his philosophical contributions endured, influencing a vast range of fields from metaphysics and ethics to politics and psychology.

This is my version of the meme for a community token I'm holding called $Hmm on Solana. I'll come to why Hmm makes so much sense in this context.

The "Mmm" character on the left represents those who are depicted as blissfully ignorant, the "Umm" figure in the middle as those paralyzed by overthinking, and the "Hmm" character on the right as someone who is depicted as insightful and content.

Left Curve

Our Mmm guy on the left of the curve is your classic Degen. They're someone who apes into any opportunity presented to them, they don't think twice and will happily gamble without doing any research. Now don't get me wrong I'm not judging this guy... there's a bit of him in all of us and sometimes in life we have to just go for it. Sometimes he wins and sometimes he loses, but he doesn't look back and learn much from the results, he's too busy stumbling into the next thing.

He is someone who acts on basic desires and impulses without reflection, which aligns with Spinoza's concept of people who are driven by external forces and passions, living without understanding the true nature of good and bad.

Mid Curve

In the middle is our mid-curver. He overthinks and never makes a move on anything. On the occasions he does make a move, he's highly stressed and reactive. If it works out, he's ecstatic and starts t think he's right of the curve... but if it starts to turn sour he'll be the first to blame everything else except himself.

He represent those who become overwhelmed by the complexities of life. This aligns with what Spinoza explained as individuals who understand good and bad but are unable to act according to their rational understanding due to their overpowering emotions and extrinsic motivations, such as the pursuit of wealth for its own sake.

Right Curve

On the right of the curve is our Wizard or I like to think of him as a Jedi. He bears some similarity to the lefty, in that he apes into things without overthinking, but while his decisions appear instant and irrational they are in fact highly instinctive based on his experience. The major difference is that the right curve degen is aware of his reactions and will learn from them to improve his future actions.

He align with Spinoza's ideal of a person who acts out of reason and intrinsic motivation. This person seeks joy—an active emotion for Spinoza that arises from increasing one's power of acting and understanding. This guy makes informed choices based on self-awareness and understanding of cause and effect, similar to Spinoza's wise person who seeks to align their desires with the knowledge of God or Nature.

Spinoza argues that by understanding the world and our place within it, we align ourselves with the natural order, leading to true happiness. In the context of this meme, the Jedi... or "Hmm" character's joy might be found in the pursuit of meaningful activities aligned with their nature and understanding, not merely the pursuit of pleasure or avoidance of pain.

IRL Application of the Curve Mindset

While this meme is a common guide to crypto natives, we can see how it applies to other areas of day-to-day life. Here are a few scenarios where the different positions on the curve and the associated behaviors can be observed:

  1. Fitness and Dieting:

    • The left curve individual might indulge without regard for nutritional information or the long-term effects of their diet and exercise habits.

    • The mid curve person could become overwhelmed with calorie counting, macronutrient ratios, and the latest diet trends, causing stress and potential decision paralysis.

    • The right curver seeks a balanced approach to health, informed by a good understanding of nutrition and exercise, but also listens to their body's needs and enjoys their lifestyle.

  2. Career and Education:

    • On the left of the curve, you might choose a job or a course without much thought about passion or career progression, content with the status quo or just to meet the expectations of others like parents.

    • In the middle, someone might overanalyze career choices or education paths, leading to anxiety and difficulty making decisions due to fear of making the wrong choice.

    • The person on the right side approaches their career strategically, motivated by personal fulfillment and growth, but remains flexible and doesn't overthink every step.

  3. Consumer Behavior:

    • The lefty could make purchases on a whim without considering their actual needs or the financial consequences.

    • A person in the middle might agonize over every purchase, researching excessively, and struggle with decision-making, potentially missing out on necessary or fulfilling purchases.

    • On the right, one would make informed purchases that bring joy and utility, without succumbing to impulsive buying or overthinking each choice.

The insights of the curve mindet reflect varying degrees of thoughtfulness, impulsivity, and self-awareness in decision-making processes. The key takeaway is the balance between instinctive reactions and informed decisions, aiming for a rational yet fulfilling approach to life.

Are you ready for the truth about crypto?

Applying this to everyday life is actually really hard, to behavioral patterns that are so ingrained. That's why dipping your toe into crypto and web3 culture is the best place to train and no that doesn't require you to trade crypto at all... there so much more to explore.

But to understand what you're getting into... this tweet from a woman I really admire in the crypto space sums up the raw truth of it all.

"Crypto is so contentious because it's right on the edge and overtly unapologetic about all the things most people want to deny.. the best and worst of human nature & ingenuity on show.. it's astounding to witness. Most people have no interest in that much truth and alas crypto."

If you really want to face up to your own human nature, then crypto is the ultimate arena to test your mettle. It does require focus and getting in the trenches to learn the emerging tech, it does require sound judgement and a highly skeptical attitude. But learning the tech is easy, we all did it when the internet started and dial-up modems and clunky web browsers were so alien to us. The masses will do it again. The technology is not the barrier, the culture is.

Where the money flows... the grifters will go. And boy does it flow! Unfortunately the negative side of crypto is what makes headlines... and understandable when scammers like SBF of FTX cost people so much money. But the % of loud and dodgy grifters, while visible... is small. What most don't realize is the majority form an incredible culture full of creative, hardworking nerds that are innovating. Don’t ever bet against that.

I've quoted this before and I'll say it again, from Chris Dixon in his book 'Read Write Own'...

“What the smartest people do in the weekends, is what everyone will do during the week in 10 years.”

Here's the alpha: the best place to be right now is an app called Warpcast. I won't befuddle you with the tech, just know that's where the innovation is happening and it is still mostly void of the noise you get on what is known as Crypto-Twitter. Warpcast is part of a blockchain called Farcaster, it's like a cross between Twitter and Reddit and it's elegantly simple to use and to find niche groups in interest 'Channels' which don't all revolve around crypto and web3.

But, just like the technology, jumping into the underbelly of crypto culture will not always be required. When the internet started you had to jump into forums with a lot of nerds to learn how to make things work but nowadays the tricky stuff is under the surface. In crypto the tools and services will revolutionize the way we do everyday things like business, banking, voting and property purchases. But the technology will be under the surface along with the nerds and degens and they won't need to know about the protocol layers and terms like NFT or ERC.

But if you want to be an early adopter and take advantage of the massive opportunities of an emerging technology, then get in there, learn the tech but more importantly... become aware self-aware of the degen curve, make informed decisions but try not to be too mid-curve.

Ok lets see if I lost thousands of dollars while talking to you!

Ok.. as I expected, we bounced off the previous support. Honestly I knew that was going to happen... I'm so right curve! Or am I just a mid who thinks he's right curving it?!

Till next time, do well degen.

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