That's a question that I've quietly asked myself ever since April of last year (2016) when I was buying a book called Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money, by Nathaniel Popper.
I was inside of a Barnes & Noble bookstore which is located right outside of Jackson, Mississippi. I was looking for two specific books regarding Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. When I couldn't find either I asked an employee for help.
The employee appeared to be relatively young and appeared to be a university student. He asked me few different times if I could repeat what I was saying when I said "cryptocurrency" after he couldn't find anything regarding bitcoin in their store computer.
We eventually ascertained that one of the books was in their system and I went over to the area where the employee indicated that the book was located. I found the book (I must have overlooked the first time) and browsed through it.
After a few minutes passed I went back over to the information desk and inquired again about the other book which I was looking for.
At this point the same employee politely said, "If you don't mind me asking, what is Bitcoin?"
This is where I froze up for at least a few seconds while I drew in a big breath of oxygen and said, "well...ah.. it's a cryptocurrency." Then, "And you can ah..use it..."
Inside my head I was running around looking for a method to effectively and efficiently tell this guy (who genuinely appeared to be interested in learning what Bitcoin is) more about Bitcoin. I then said something like, "It's a digital money... and.. (I can't remember exactly what I said after that but probably nothing very helpful)"
He then asked, "What are some of the benefits of Bitcoin? What is it good for?"
At that point I said, "Excellent question.. well, you can instantly send bitcoin to anywhere in the world and for a nominal or exceptionally low fee."
I then gave an example of making an in-person-in-the-bank SWIFT international banking transfer (and fees) compared to a bitcoin transaction which you may do you on your phone in just in a few second and for nothing more than a nominal fee consisting of just a number of cents.
That's when a girl (another Barnes & Noble employee) showed up and joined the conversation and dismissively (and with some overt negativity) said to her coworker, "You probably haven't heard of it because most people haven't and it hasn't even been around 5 years and it's probably not going to go anywhere anyways."
At that point a few relevant details for discussion did occur to me. However, I'd just come from a long day of work and I looked dirty enough to not even really belong in the store in the first place. Moreover, I don't really like dealing with negative people and I typically don't waste my breath and time attempting to deal with them.
So essentially I missed my opportunity (my own fault for not being prepared) to effectively and concisely convey useful and helpful information regarding Bitcoin to the young man who appeared to be genuinely interested in learn about bitcoin.
I did however go on to quickly finish the discussion (completely ignoring the other employee and their negative viewpoint) with at least one relevant and compelling point which was regarding Bitcoin's value in US Dollars and that the price is always rising (and I stated the then current value of Bitcoin in USD which was probably somewhere around $400 if I remember correctly). Moreover, I indicated that just a few years ago one could buy bitcoin for just pennies (cents) and that an entirely new wave of millionaires had been created after the value went into the hundreds of dollars per bitcoin.
Unfortunately, that's one of the only discussions on Bitcoin which I've had here in Mississippi. Occasionally during checkout at small stores I've asked if Bitcoin is an accepted form of payment. One time at a small restaurant while paying the bill with my bank card I noticed that they were using Square (i.e., the merchant service with the little square device that you plug into your phone or tablet to swipe cards) and I immediately asked them if they take Bitcoin too. Nobody's heard of it.
I hope that Bitcoin becomes more popular here. I also want to note here (because it's not just a Mississippi problem) that even in new trendy and gentrified places in downtown Chicago I've stepped into hipster-looking stores and shops and asked if they take Bitcoin and in doing so I've got some weird looks and more than a few "...what??"
I'm nobody special but I'm interested in technology, coding, cybersecurity and gaining intellectual wealth and helping others make the same progress. Categorically there are way too many people living in the old 9 - 5 serfdom-like system in present day 2017. Myself I'm included because I consider my day job to be strictly work for neanderthals -
Yes, that's me looking ugly and risking death for just few bucks of fiat currency. Btw, what's up with these comments I've been reading about the Nandi Bear being a cute little teddy bear?
The Nandi Bear is a cryptid (an animal whose existence is disputed or doubted for lacked of sufficient evidence of existence) much like Bigfoot (USA), the Loch Ness Monster (Scotland) or Mokele Mbembe (the dinosaur in the Congo). There have been reports by the British (an of course the indigenous population) in the past regarding face to face sightings of the Nandi Bear in Kenya (and sometimes elsewhere in East Africa). The Nandi Bear is said to attack humans and specifically the head in order to eat the human brain. If you don't believe that bears have ever went for specifically for a human's head then just watch this video.
So what might one tell another when asked about Bitcoin and/or cryptocurrency? It will likely need to be several concise and relevant discussion points which can be exclaimed or blurted out with relative ease and also be easily understood.
You just can't go absolutely and categorically single-minded expert on person who has little or likely zero experience with Bitcoin.
Strap on your sociology hat for a moment and conduct some deep and critical thinking before you start dealing with people who might be distinctively unlike you yet exceptionally talented in other areas of life which you may not be so talented in.
They may not easily or thoroughly digest systematic and rigorous explanations of blockchains, encryption and Bitcoin
Some ideas (let me know if they make you cringe up and also how much cringe factor on a scale of 1 thru 10) which I have for future encounters with normal people who ask me what Bitcoin is and what is it good for -
1. Bitcoin is a digital money which is fundamentally and categorically unlike any that came before it
2. Bitcoin is money that can be used anywhere in the world
3. Bitcoin can be used by anyone. You cannot be denied a bitcoin address. Moreover, you may have as many bitcoin addresses (or "accounts") as you desire. Moreover, bitcoin addresses (or "accounts") are free to create (or "open")
4. Bitcoin is decentralized... there's no single point of failure... unlike Paypal, credit cards and bank accounts your money cannot be frozen, appropriated, expropriated, withheld or taken upon the order of some applicable authority (e.g., the Court)
5. Bitcoin is not a business and your bitcoin is not stored on Bitcoin's website (bitcoin.org). Just like cash money there is no 1-800 number for Bitcoin
6. Bitcoin cannot be shutdown as there is a record of all transactions, known as the "blockchain" or a public ledger. The ledger is stored and updated on thousands of online computers in many differently countries around the world approximately ever ten (10) minutes. Bitcoin cannot be shut down by governments, banks or any other authority
7. Bitcoin is exceedingly valuable... the current value of just a single Bitcoin in US Dollars is (current value gets inserted here). The overall value of Bitcoin has consistently risen from the outset and in January 2017 the US Dollar conversion for 1 BTC (i.e.,Bitcoin) was more than $1100.00 USD
8. Yes, 1 Bitcoin is worth significantly more than 1 US Dollar. But don't worry, you can buy (and also spend) any fraction of a bitcoin. The smallest fraction of a bitcoin is a 100 millionth
9. You can easily and effortlessly send any amount of bitcoin, even on your smartphone, to anyone in the world in just a few seconds. Sending 100,000 bitcoin is no more difficult than sending 1 bitcoin. Bitcoins are numbers on a ledger
10. You can easily move Bitcoin around. It's not bulky like cash and there aren't any centralized entities such banks or governments to tangibly block the movement of your bitcoin or pull you over in your vehicle and confiscate your bitcoin on the side of the road, in front of your home, at the border or by order of the Court
That's it for now. In the comments or posts below please share your thoughts, critique, feedback and point out errors (if any). Please don't be shy and don't be lazy. If you can help someone by typing something below then I both welcome and implore you to considering do so. Thank you