Things Every Blockchain Widow Should Know
Are you a blockchain widow?
Steph is a Social Media and Marketing Consultant living in the UK. Here she shares a few of the challenges facing blockchain ‘newbies’, common misconceptions about blockchain, and why she’s grateful that she’s had help learning more about this emerging technology.
First things first, if you’re a seasoned cryptocurrency veteran or blockchain advocate, this post probably isn’t for you.
I’m not a developer, I’ve never learned to code, and like many of my female friends, I’m embarrassed by my lack of ‘technical’ skills. Luckily, I’ve spent countless hours working with some amazing developers on various corporate web launches. I’ve also been with my partner, Chris (a software development manager), for four years now. During this time, Chris has become increasingly involved in the crypto and blockchain ‘world’ – meaning that I too have taken a much keener interest than I would have otherwise.
As a ‘blockchain widow’ (the partner of someone who dedicates a significant amount of their time either trading or involved in crypto projects) there are highs and lows, but for me it’s been worth it as it’s helped me to form my own opinions about this technology and the currently volatile market surrounding it. To my surprise, it’s also brought Chris and I closer together; it’s another new interest that we have in common.
Blockchains, crypto and media coverage – who to trust?
One of the hardest things for newbies like me is knowing who to trust. I’ve found media coverage over the past few years wildly inconsistent. Over the space of a weekend, I’ve seen major financials go from condemning blockchain as ‘a fraud’ to being accused of allegedly making huge profits as agents for bitcoin buyers and sellers.
By the start of 2018, lifestyle writers that I respect were calling out ‘Bitcoin bores’ and a vulgar profit-driven subculture that the steep rise in bitcoin value seemed to have created. The following month, I was horrified by stories highlighting some of the environmental concerns surrounding Bitcoin mining. For the first time I felt really uncomfortable. At home we were ditching plastic and eating vegan five days a week to try to cut our own carbon footprint, yet here we were exploring something that was supposedly destroying the environment at an alarming rate.
“It was confusing reading all the contradicting stories online and in print, particularly in the mainstream media. Although my male friends seemed more curious, everyone admitted that they still didn’t really get it.”
A quick survey of my female friends and colleagues supported my concerns. Many of those I spoke to were in well paid, professional roles yet confessed they had ‘absolutely no idea about that stuff’ and ‘would never invest as they didn’t understand it.’
In 2017, Forbes went one step further calling out that only 7% of all cryptocurrency users were women, perhaps an unsurprising stat when you consider the shortage of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.
At best, the ‘bravest’ ladies I’ve spoken to expressed their dismay that they weren’t more knowledgeable on the matter, feeling that they had ‘really missed out due to the lack of reassurance and their concerns about the security controls in place.’
Being a supportive blockchain widow
Despite my friends’ concerns and the mixed messages in the media, I knew that Chris wouldn’t be working so many evenings on something he didn’t feel confident could make a real difference.
For some blockchain widows, their partners will be glued to their phones 24/7 to keep up to date with the latest news, particularly if they’re focused on trading. For us, the hardest thing is supporting his unusual working hours as a volunteer on various blockchain projects. In addition to his day job, he regularly needs to dial-in to meetings in the evenings with teams across the globe.
As blockchain regulation is still taking shape, these projects are constantly evolving and incredibly fast paced, making it difficult for Chris to take a break, switch off, and get some much-needed headspace. Knowing how difficult it is for Chris to get ‘thinking space’, it is important to me that I can be someone he can talk things through with rationally.
“Whether you’re a blockchain widow or a crypto newbie, I think the most important thing is to stay curious. The industry is still taking shape, so you’ll need to carefully choose your sources and constantly weigh up the risks.”
Personally, I’m wary of anything which is purely profit driven as I’m morally adverse to ‘get rich quick’ schemes.
A big part of my day job is weighing up campaign pros and cons then talking these through with stakeholders who have completely different objectives. I’ve tried to apply this approach when we talk through his blockchain work: What are you trying to achieve? Who will this project benefit? Is there anyone else offering this service? How does this work, and how can you make it tangible for a wider audience? These questions may seem obvious when written down, but it took me a long time not to shy away from his work as it was such unfamiliar territory for me.
Project POMA and choosing a blockchain
Rightfully so, it’s illegal (unless you’re a financial advisor) to advise on which blockchains and cryptos one should trade with, but I can say why we decided to volunteer for Project POMA. Having asked the questions above, Project POMA is one that I found the most tangible and the one that I could relate to on a personal level. From the get-go, the team stressed to me that their mission wasn’t about making millionaires. Instead, it’s about helping to make emerging technology accessible to communities across the world – both economically developed and less economically developed countries alike.
The cynic in me knows that deep down, everyone wants to ‘save the world,’ but I’m excited and hopeful for the various releases the team have planned for the year ahead. If I can encourage more of my female friends to investigate emerging technology, even better.