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Describing Cryptocurrency to a 12 year old

How not to confuse everyone with crypto witchcraft

(Preamble: This is all in good fun. I don’t hate any crypto-enthusiasts, I love what you’re doing.)

Cryptocurrency is on the tips of everyone’s teeth right now. With skyrocketing worth surging up to $17,000, and subsequently dropping to $15,000, people are finally taking notice. You know, normal people.

People that had no interest in understanding what the hell all this Bit-crap even is, are now paying attention because NiceHash was hacked recently.

I thought all this was decentralized, with no “single point of failure”. Huh.

Guess I don’t know shit about digital currencies on the broader scale. Which makes sense, because it’s all witchcraft. Better get out the ruins and divinate this shit.

Everyday humans cannot understand cryptocurrency very well. It’s stuck in our heads like peanut butter in a dog’s mouth, and we’re all trying to lick it off.

I already don’t know anything about stocks. This is giving me PTSD flashbacks to Trig in High School.

Smacking our gums trying to describe something you’ve done a crappy job explaining in the first place.

I should know how difficult understanding cryptocurrency for the first time is, I’m a copywriter with a teaching background. My job, most of the time, is to deal with language. And making it simpler. I’m also a moron.

My job is to take concepts and boil them down into words that make sense to most people.

Even if it’s reductionary, delivering quick information, easily, is important. And the job of a copywriter. Humor and relatable content goes a long way, also.

You can’t discuss cryptocurrency without lapsing into definitions upon definitions defined by more definitions? You’re fired. I’ve fired you.

I’ve ghostwritten two articles from “thicc” PDFs about crypto. I had no idea what it was, but I was able to explain it for middle-schoolers. The people you hired to do your UX copy and white papers? Fire them.

Inaccessible white papers, UX-Fail web pages, jargon-filled explanations — cryptocurrency is dense like grandma’s home-made rye bread.

Why doesn’t Blockchain, Bitcoin, etc make any sense to 99.9% of the human population?

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash. Translation: Wee woo, wee woo woo.

Because when you write about crypto, you are speaking to your niche audience. Not the broader populace. And you’re not very engaging. So they don’t give a shit.

Us morons try to compare cryptocurrency stuff to in-hand money-things (fiat currency) and real life, physical products.That’s our only point of reference, as non-dweebs, because this tech is so foreign.

However, crypto-enthusiasts use crap terminology. Like Bitcoin Wallets, depictions of Gold Coins, and Bitcoin Miners.

Who just thought of a Hello Kitty wallet, Scrooge McDuck’s vault with gold coins, and some Bob The Builder looking mother trucker with a pick-axe? I know I did.

Because you use real life terminology to describe something 100% virtual, nobody gets it. Except for you.

You aren’t boiling cryptocurrency down like you’re speaking to your 12 year old cousin, Steven.

Photo by Hunter Johnson on Unsplash. Steven, obviously.

Instead, you’re gatekeeping and getting mad at little Stevie for not understanding how his $1 bill will, at some point, be useless because your newer, cooler, more awesomer internet-money-thing is the wave of the future.

Stevie, and everyone else, is staring at you like you have 8 heads. He wants his $1 back so he can buy 2 York Peppermint Patty singles at the Tedeschi’s up the street.


I’m going to take a page from cinema and write up an explanation about all this crypo-crap, as though I channeled Bill and Ted, or perhaps Jay and Silent Bob.

That way, little Stevie can understand. Just like he’d sit and marvel at his super-cool older cousin who just ate a bunch of pot brownies and explained the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment to him.

I’m not sourcing this. You don’t know it? Unfriend.

Me: You put a radioactive atom — you learned about atoms in school, right? In a box with a cat and stuff.

Stevie: Yeah. We learned about atoms. That sucks! The cat will be dead!

Me: Naw, it’s more weird, little guy. Because radioactive stuff is gnarly, it can be both a dead-making thing, or a not-dead-making-thing.

Stevie: Kinda like a zombie?

Me: Sorta, dude. So, we have no idea, if the cat in the box is dead or alive or whatever. Cause that radioactive atom thing — we don’t know what it’s really doing.

Stevie: I wanna be a zombie, wow!

Me: Shit’s complicated sometimes. It’s like, a quantum mechanics thing.

Stevie: Cool. Can we go get candy now?

Me: Yeah, we’ll totally get some York Peppermint Patties. Get me some eye drops, my man.

Haven’t seen this? I’m blocking you.

Cryptocurrency explained as if I’m a stoner (I’m not) to my little cousin Steven:

Cryptocurrencies are computer money, little man. You’ve got a whole lot of different types, but for this explanation we’re gonna to go with Bitcoin.

Cause he’s the most popular dude on the block(chain), or whatever.

Bitcoin works on, like, a weird computer network. It’s called Blockchain.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash. Woooooosh.

Blockchain was invented by this cool dude named Satoshi Nakamoto. No, that’s not a made-up-anime-name. God damn it, Steven.

He used, like, peer to peer shit. Like Napster or whatever. This was before Spotify, little man.

Napster from the 90’s. Duh.

People shared music and other stuff with each other, hosted on their own computers. Super-cool, right?

How the shit does Blockchain work?

The old system of The Man controlling cash, and telling people how much the money was worth and what it did, or like, where it went and came from, is Dinosaurs.

Literally Dinosaurs, Stevie. As in dead. Not…like a T-Rex. God damn it.

Blockchain doesn’t need The Man.

The path of virtual money, is like, seen and checked across a bunch of computers. Like Anarcho-capi — shit. Your dad’s gonna kill me if I start on that.

The computers that check this shit are nodes or whatever. Everyone can, like, see the path the virtual-money takes. Where it came from, where it’s going, who it belongs to.

It’s all written down or whatever.

So not one single asshole can just say: my money is the best money. I have the best money. I have really big money.

Every node / computer in the network, or whatever, does the job of checking that people don’t double-dip. You know? If it ain’t there, it ain’t there.

Like your college fund in the bank, or whatever. Except with banks you can overdraw and it hits you in the face with a fee. Fuck you Citizens bank.

The righteous thing about virtual money (cryptocurrency) and how it works (blockchain network) is that the only way you can, like, make more of it, is through mining that shit.

How the fuck do people make Bitcoins?

You gotta Bob-the-Builder that crap, Stevie.

Bob can, like, verify where money goes and what it does and support the network by using his dank setup to solve puzzles. That’s, like, the only way to create new Bitcoins and stuff. So they get rewarded by doing nice things.

You know, like how your mom gives you an allowance for doing chores and shit.

You’re learning fractions now, right?

If you use a computer to support, like, the network, and use your computer to solve puzzles, you can make tiny, tiny fractions of Bitcoins over a long period of time and stuff.

Little dude, since you get rewarded for doing the puzzles, they like, have to make the math harder every time you get stuff. Like when you went up from multiplication to fractions last year, right?

That’s what nerds mean by mining bitcoins. A dude doesn’t go into the internet and actually jab at shit with a pick-axe in a cave.

But how the crap do I get money for candy then?

Photo by Sylvanus Urban on Unsplash

You can take your Bitcoins and put them in a Bitcoin Wallet.

Then, like, you need to use an exchange to transfer Bitcoins to dollar-dollar bills, or other shit.

Sort of like when you trade Pokemon except you get moneys instead.

The wicked awesome thing is that, since so many people or whatever, are working to support a network not run or lorded over by The Man, they’ve made a new way to make money, get money, trade money, and like, tell where money is going.

I don’t even know what the hell this website is doing, but, source.

Little Stevie, does this make sense?

Steven: I…just want to go get York Peppermint Patties.

Me: Cool. So, I have 1 Bitcoin I got ages ago. We can buy 30293 patty singles.


If the facts are wrong, help a girl out and reply below. (Thanks Eric!)
Cryptocurrency is difficult to understand unless you’re steeped in it like a teabag.

Kira Leigh is a snarky marketing nerd, writer, and artist.

See her work here and send her a message. She needs dehm sweet sweet gigs.

Or join her on Discord like the giant nerd you are: windows95toasteroven#3745