EARLIER THIS week, a Scottish hospital became the first in the UK to offer a rehabilitation programme for addiction to cryptocurrency
It’s a genuine, burgeoning issue. The huge fluctuations in the price of virtual currencies make it the perfect fodder for those with addictive personalities – it’s not that different to online poker – but without regulation, meaning the stakes are as high as you can make them, and the deck isn’t stacked in anyone’s favour.
You really can win big. You really can lose everything. And there’s not a lot anyone can do to change that, or regulate it.
It is hoped, nay expected, that eventually, currencies like the more mature Bitcoin will start to settle down and be as reliable as other currencies. But right now, it’s a hot mess.
John McAfee, who has reinvented himself as a cryptocurrency guru, wouldn’t deny his own addictive personality, and we expect that’s part of the rush, though there’s little doubt that he is a guy who seriously knows what he’s doing. After all, he’s bet his babymaker on it.
Me on the other hand (yes, this is still an opinion piece, try and keep up)? I’ve always been a bit overwhelmed by the idea. It was only when the splendid Spencer Kelly explained it on Panorama that I actually finally understood what it was all about.
I knew I wanted to dabble – I’m a sucker for anything like that. But it’s knowing where to start.
The final trigger was when challenger bank card Revolut started doing a limited rollout of its own cryptocurrency. I was already using it for work trips, and the premise made it all very simple. Bitcoin became available as an exchange currency, just as dollars and Euros already were.
It’s all a lot simpler than getting set up with a brand new company and using an on-device wallet.
So, I transferred £100 ($133) into Bitcoin. Within minutes, I’d lost £3.
Undeterred, I set up an alert for when my money was worth £120 – just for the giddy thrill of seeing a profit.
It hasn’t happened. As I write this, at lunchtime on Friday, my £100 is now worth £85. There have been the odd fluctuations, usually either around now (working) or in the middle of the night (sleeping). The troughs generally happen between 0800-1000 when Europe first comes online.
It’s become fairly clear that if it was ever a get-rich-quick scheme, it certainly isn’t now, at least for Bitcoin. The serious investors/gamblers have moved on to the thousands of other ICOs that have launched.
If it doesn’t get any lower, I’ve spent £15 on an experiment, and I’m not above a couple of notes for a bit of life experience. That’s part of the reason I wanted some Bitcoin in the first place.
But for an investor – it’s a full-time job, just like Wall Street or any other. More than that – it’s a 24/7 calling, where you could be woken at any time, or distracted from all else to snag that sudden spike in value.
Frankly, my dears. I have better things to do. As legal highs go, there are a lot of better, cheaper ways to get an endorphin rush and still get a good nights sleep.
But, I get it. You only have to look at the studies which show that the simple act of a “like” on social media sends your brain chemistry into a tizzy. So, of course, the transfer of virtual money into real-world wealth is going to give you a bit of a dizzy fit, and if you’re so inclined, could be addictive.
For me though, the risk-reward is so pitiful and (probably because I’ve lost) the returns so tiny, no matter what they tell you on telly, that I think I’d be happier getting a good nights kip instead. Right after refreshing my Twitter feed one more time. OK. Two. µ
Source : Inquirer