The Bicycle, Umbrella and now, Cryptocurrency

The recurring challenge of social acceptance for witty technological advancements

Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

There is such anger and negative sentiment towards cryptocurrency today. Every day I hear some form of witty argument to counter the use and effectiveness of the blockchain technology. With the manner of words expressed today, you would think crypto will fall into obscurity. So the other day, I was thinking if crypto was the first invention that will undergo this harsh treatment. What I discovered was interesting.

Actually, I didn’t have to search before the answers found me. I was in a friend’s place and he was listening to a podcast. The podcast I believe is titled; Problem Solvers. There is a series of episodes dedicated to brilliant inventions (or innovations) through history and the problems they had with adoption. They called it; Pessimist Archives.

The first one I heard was about Bicycles. Oh, it was a marvel. Who would think that there was such a terrible, negative sentiment towards bicycles when they were first invented? They called people who rode bicycles, lunatics! Doctors wrote against it. Hat sellers were very vocal against it. They blamed the bicycle for many problems in the society. Someone even wrote that people who rode bicycles have at least 20 disorders. The very idea of bicycles was laughed at. But today, even with the technological advancement of the modern world, bicycles still exist and continues to make a big sale year on year.

You can listen to that episode on bicycles here and be enlightened.

After listening to that episode about bicycles, I thought it would be the craziest and none will ever compare to it until I heard about umbrellas. Could you believe that umbrellas faced massive adoption problems particularly in Britain?

In the 1700s, if you are in Britain and you carried an umbrella, you will be laughed at on the street. Particularly, if you are a grown man because umbrellas gradually became a thing for women and maids. There was a record of a man who carried an umbrella in Britain during this time where little kids came out to ridicule him saying, ‘Frenchman, Frenchman, why don’t you order a coach’. The society expects that if you can’t order a coach, then you should get wet in the rain.

You can listen to the podcast about umbrellas here.

This is not just exclusive to bicycles and umbrellas, this also concerns many other inventions that have shaken the traditional order of the society. You wouldn’t believe how crazy the fight against adoption was with some of these things. Consider coffee, you need to see the pessimists went on a rampage to stop it. The historical records are all there for us to learn from.

The interesting thing about the bicycles and umbrellas is that despite the war that was launched against them, they still prevailed. We have them today. No true invention cowed in because of pessimists outrage. As it was true for bicycles and umbrellas in those days, so it is for cryptocurrency today.

The first thing referred to as a bicycle that was made (about 200 years ago) had no pedals. You use your legs against the ground to give it the propelling force to move forward. That was how crude it was. But today, we even have the electric bicycle.

When I hear people saying cryptocurrencies have no real use, it turns me off. Most (if not all) of these projects know that they are not doing it for today but for the world of tomorrow. It is like looking at the pedal-less bicycle and saying that it had no future. It is certain that some cryptocurrencies will go into obscurity (as some have already gone), however, to say it has no future is plainly a lack of wisdom. If I lived outside time, I would place a higher bet on cryptocurrencies as it is today than the pedal-less bicycle when it was first created.

The biggest barrier to the success of a new technology is; adoption. There are ways to hack adoption but it is quite complicated. Most times the best thing is just to wait for time to pass. Let me tell you 5 reasons I am for cryptocurrencies:

  1. Majority of current users are below 40 years
  2. It is a significant technological improvement over the current financial system
  3. It makes decentralization possible
  4. It has the potential to grant access to financial services where it is extremely challenging
  5. Governments have no control over your money and least likely to be affected by political instability

You can call me crazy, but I am quite focused on the world of tomorrow. I think crypto will succeed and I intend to succeed with it. I hope you find solid arguments to support your own position.

Not owning crypto is a decision

I rest my case


The Bicycle, Umbrella and now, Cryptocurrency was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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