Everyone’s out to create a digital currency nowadays! I’m joining in, with a twist.
I enjoy behavioral economics and its applications. The works of Dan Ariely, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Steven D. Levitt, Malcolm Gladwell, and Herb Simon have been an excellent place for me to start. Let me share with you a few thoughts.
Market norms and Social norms
Our reactions, decision-making, and/or behaviors depend on the context we are in. In this case, I’m taking the two situations that are either regulated by market norms or influenced by scenarios immersed in social norms.
When we’re in a world regulated by market norms, we count, we measure, we tally, we transact. Money is king and the minute (tic toc tic toc) is queen. For example, your consultant charges you by the hour; your lawyer by the 15-min increment. You buy, you pay.
It all started with the barter system. Traders gave goods and services in exchange for other goods and services. 1500-500 BC the Phoenicians traded with wood, glass, and Tyrian purple. Silver, bronze, and gold coins developed to become a standard currency. Later on, paper currency was invented backed by gold (and sometimes not). Today, the new-comer on the block is the bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency that works without a central bank. Bitcoins evolved from an experiment to becoming very real.
In a world of social norms, on the other hand, we exchange with friends and strangers goodwill, favors, time, talent, and effort. We help a total stranger cross the street with her kids; we feed a hungry person; we pay a visit and rebuild someone’s damaged home. With social norms, we don’t count. We give and don’t wait for anything in return. In that world, some of us believe that the universe, God, or our favorite guardian angel will somehow work things out; and maybe, just maybe we get something back :-). In the world of social norms, bitcoins don’t exist. Bitmoons do.
Bitmoons, the social currency
Maybe you’re thinking: Bit Moon; nothing to do with the moon. In colloquial Lebanese, the term Bitmoon cannot be directly translated to English. Bitmoon is a one-person’s state as related to another. When two people develop such a strong relationship that one person can commit the other to almost anything in his or her absence knowing that the other will fully engage, no matter what; that’s a bitmoon.
If one of your friends needs help, you can commit the people in your inner circle to come to his aid. If one of your military buddies calls for something, even over a decade later, you show up; that’s that. When you’re travelling to a far away city and don’t know anyone except that one person whom you have bitmoons with, you show up to their doorstep and walk in. These initial bitmoons are nothing to compare with the more involved ones that you may have experienced.
One reaches this level of a relation over time, with service, by giving, without counting. Those little actions accumulate to our personal social equity. Bitmoons self-count. They do it for you; hassle-free. When it’s time and when you least expect it, they dispense towards you. They lift you up, move you forward, and carry you on when you least expect it.
Bitcoins and Bitmoons live in two worlds
Do you know that there are only 21 million bitcoins? The limited supply with the current high demand cause the price increase. One accumulates bitcoins to trade with them. Bitcoins are countable just like money.
Bitmoons, on the other hand are infinitely abundant. With 7.5 billion of us on earth, how many do you think are reaching out and giving a helping hand to a fellow neighbor, a stranger, or a close friend? We dispense of bitmoons. If we keep them, they dwindle away and become of no use. They say, when you set them free, you stand a better chance of getting multiples back, when you mostly need them.
Encouraging youth to understand the two worlds
Some people think that it’s too late for us adults to change our ways. Others think that the biggest lie on earth is that people cannot change. I say that youth have the will to give more freely than adults. They are the ones who enlist and go fight for their country. They’re the ones who demonstrate on the streets and push us to change our old ways. On average, youth set free more bitmoons than adults. At least they start that way until they get more pragmatic with life’s responsibilities; when they start migrating towards counting bitcoins.
For a better upbringing, we make an effort to teach the youth financial literacy. When they grow up, we make sure that they’re always reminded of the value of bitmoons and their boomerang effect. What happens when you bridge both worlds? What happens when sometimes you give someone a legal break by forgetting a contractual clause you have with him? In other words, what happens when you use bitmoons in a bitcoin environment? A good outcome is when we gain literacy on the use of both bitcoins and bitmoons. Not knowing the difference may cause confusion, unmatched expectations, ambiguity, and disagreement between parties. Understanding the difference can benefit both worlds.
The best outcome is when we take advantage of our bitcoins to support our bitmoon actions, and when the bitmoon spirit helps strike a bitcoin transaction.
Courtesy Habitat for Humanity