Why Baby Boomers Can’t Afford to Ignore The Crypto Revolution
Neurologists used to think that once adulthood was reached the human brain entered a fairly fixed state, with no more growth. Get your learning done at school boys and girls, because it’s all downhill from adulthood onwards, with an observable steady decline in the number of functioning brain cells every year.
It’s true that some kinds of learning are definitely more easily acquired by young brains, such as languages, and language-like pattern-based learning like music and mathematics. In the 1990s however greater understanding emerged, regarding neuroplasticity — the way the brain can continue to learn and evolve throughout life, provided it is stimulated in the right way. This wasn’t understood until the availability of fMRI scanners enabled researchers to see how the brain sends messages from one neuron to another, and finally identified the mechanism through which brain-injured adults were, amazingly, sometimes able to relearn functions and behaviors lost through the damaged part of the brain, by re-routing through other pathways.
What they discovered turned theories of adult learning upside down: The number of brain cells involved represents only a small fraction of the story, because what is far more important is the connections between them, and how these are reinforced by patterns of behavior, and even by patterns of thought.
And whilst completely different on a cellular level, you can think of the brain as acting more like a muscle. Of course, your muscles grow physically during development from childhood into adulthood, and if you do nothing more with them thereafter they will not change a lot after maturity is reached other than through age-related atrophy. But, if you steadily exercise and use that muscle, through graded training, it responds and changes, it grows and renews (at pretty much any age, there are amazing stories of people taking up bodybuilding in their 70s and 80s and radically altering their body composition).
The brain works in the same way: use it or lose it!
When it comes to learning about crypto and trading, this is a very good thing. Whether you’re a young entrepreneur immersed in technical knowledge from an early age, or you’ve lived a through technical revolutions already in your lifetime, you have equal potential to benefit from the new economy. Provided, that is, you put in the time and effort to learn.
And if you’re old enough to have bad memories of studying, perhaps to have had classroom teachers who trained before things like neuroplasticity or neurodiversity were understood, maybe you got labeled as ‘slow’ or ‘bad with numbers’ or any other unhelpful categorization, as happened to many people.
But the good news is you have a wealth of life experience and existing neural pathways to bring to the table. It’s not like doing reps in the gym, graded brain exercise is interesting, engaging, and non-repetitive — everything you learn helps you learn everything else, and helps you adapt to a rapidly changing world.
You also bring a longer learned perspective on the meaning of money, economics, and investment. Perhaps, unlike the average millennial, you actually HAVE some investments. You have experienced cycles of boom and bust in the traditional markets, you might recall double-digit interest rates, maybe even the gold standard.
That viewpoint is priceless.
Further good news for you to take on board is that pretty much everyone in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space is self-taught to a significant extent. While formal tertiary level qualifications are now emerging around the world to address growing needs, you can truly learn everything you need to know about crypto and trading online and free of cost: this is truly a revelation, if you last updated your skills a generation ago, when research meant library study and books and lectures… Today, it’s all out there for the taking, for any learner to engage with keep their brain young.
The challenge is, in crypto as in so many other spheres of learning, the quality of information and learning ‘out there’ online is hugely variable. While you expect debate in an emergent space, a lot of the sources that Google will direct you are frankly of poor quality and/or completely contradictory, and the problem in crypto especially is a range of biased interests: information provided by those supporting particular projects or coins or viewpoints, often with no transparency. Always follow the money — if it’s not obvious why how someone is getting paid for writing and sharing a learning resource, ask yourself if you are not the product yourself — your attention, and or contact details.
Finding the true signal through all the noise, is a challenge. But we do our best to share and dicsuss quality information in the Crypto Confidence Podcast, and our associated Facebook Community, where we have an explicit rule that no investment advice is given, and there are no silly questions (provided that they’re at least peripherally related to blockchain and cryptocurrency!)
We also can also recommend the great resources at BlockGeeks, and we share a lot of their content, especially their excellent animations. If a picture paints a thousand words, then moving pictures are exponentially better…
If you have learned about blockchain and crypto as an adult learner rather than an IT student, we’d love to know what resources you have found helpful, which brought to life challenging concepts for you, or gave you the key to unlock something really abstract through an accessible metaphor or example.
The wonderful thing about working in this space is that we are ALL learning, all the time — and there is so much room for growth and development that this learning is very non-competitive and egalitarian. Avoid the hype and the people after your money, and dig deep into the transformative social impact potential of the underlying ideas, because they’re pretty amazing.
It’s also part of what makes it so exciting to be a part of, and far too exciting to be left to those millennials!
The cryptocurrency revolution is for everyone, so come on in.
Why Baby Boomers Can’t Afford to Ignore The Crypto Revolution was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.