My first time wasn’t particularly spectacular.
Foraying into the cryptocurrency space wasn’t particularly spectacular. I was browsing Reddit in 2014 and had come across a post explaining how you could contribute your computing power to solve complex hashes. Me, being the philanthropic individual I was — and mistaking this for a p2p network — ended up following the instructions to run the Bitcoin Core client. The only change I made during the entire step-by-step process was switching the hardcoded wallet address to my personalized one (for the sake of anonymity). In hindsight, this would probably be one of the best decisions I’d made in my adolescence.
My BTC address started with 1, which is now a legacy address. My secret key was also an homage to xkcd’s comic strip Password Strength — correcthorsebatterystaple.
I didn’t have a Windows PC at the time and wanted to test-run the barebones software so I ended up installing the beta on my grandmother’s laptop. Hearing the fans whirring for the first time and overclocking what little hash power I had at my disposal was discouraging, to say the least.
Instant gratification was impossible here because I had inadvertently installed a full node program — which meant fully validating the entire network and ledger would take time. A long time.
At the time, India’s average broadband topped out at 2Mbps and I hated waiting for the long initial synchronization time. After leaving the PC running overnight I was greeted with a 100% completion rate and finally managed to install the Multicore mining application to start verifying transactions.
After joining Slushpool, the oldest collaborative mining network in existence, I got lucky and ended up providing proof of work which netted me a single bitcoin. I then immediately lost all computer privileges because I hadn’t moved for the past few days — and ended up forgetting and losing the address. I’d only interact with cryptocurrency later next year. In hindsight, this would probably be one of the worst decisions I’d made in my adolescence.
Entering college at 17 in New York without a sense of community (read: an actual fraternity life), finding a way to drink was proving to be quite difficult. Reddit helped again and the now-defunct /r/fakeid community provided a safe haven. To purchase crypto I used Coinbase — and this was before they asked for your social security. I lamented the loss of my first wallet (and many more to come) and in my despondency ended up buying double the amount of BTC. I couldn’t reverse the purchase, so I left the difference in the exchange.
I checked my balance a few days later and saw double-digit returns. For a novice with little to no investment experience, this drastic gain altered my worldview — and also paved the way for my crippling gambling addiction. :-(
By 2017 I had a decent amount of liquidity in the online exchanges and was trading frequently. Along the way, I had a few scares and dropped an obscene amount of Ethereum on reserving ens domains. The NYU crypto community was childish and a swing and a miss for the most part, but the underground communities, lounging on Signal and Discord, were where major moves were being made. There were active pump & dump schemes for altcoins, and another person I know dropped out and started a hedge fund with his initial capital. But these are stories for another day or blogpost.
This experience drained my energy and two years of my life — I was trading overnight, juggling schoolwork, and completing client deliverables. It took a mental toll and I was burnt out.
As I previously mentioned, my first time wasn’t particularly special.