Talking To Your Family About Bitcoin On Thanksgiving
“What is this Bitcoin thing?” says your mother as she passes you a hefty bowl of mashed sweet potatoes.
Dad pauses, mid-nibble on a turkey leg to chime in, “Yeah, is that real money?”
Oh God, they want to have The Talk.
Don’t be surprised if you’re confronted with similar questions as you and millions of other digitally savvy millennials and Gen Zers trudge back home for the annual Thanksgiving Day meal.
It’s a time to reconnect with family and for family to try and pick your brain about all the culture and new-fangled technology they still don’t understand.
This is how you can talk to Mom and Dad about the monetary revolution that lives at the intersection of technology and finance.
Do not start with “Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency,” because you will lose Mom and Dad right there. Defining something unknown with something equally unknown is a big no-no.
You can say, instead, “Bitcoins are like regular money or even, in a small way, stocks.”
“How can it be like both?” they will ask you.
“Well, it’s like money in that it has value and you can use it to buy goods and services. It’s also like stock because the value fluctuates based on supply and demand. Unlike stock, there are no dividends, just whatever the bitcoin is worth on a given day.”
Mom and Dad may smile knowingly at this, pleased that they can show you how well they grasp monetary fundamentals and, maybe by extension, bitcoins.
Of course, they will have more questions.
“So where are these bitcoins?” your Dad might ask, “Do you have any in your pocket?”
At this moment, a rueful head shake is in order. This will also give you time to take a bite of stuffing before responding.
“No, bitcoins are like the money you have in the bank and credit cards. Or, better yet, you know how your boss pays you through direct deposit and then you go buy something with a debit card. The money goes from one place to the next without ever touching human hands. Bitcoins are perpetually in that state. Some call it…” No, stop yourself from saying “a virtual currency” because then you will have to explain the term “virtual.”
Regroup and add, “It just seems different than regular money, but this is actually one of the ways it’s similar.”
“My money comes from my job,” says Dad, “and, I guess, the bank, and, I guess before that the government that prints it. Where does bitcoin come from?”
I know, this is the tough part. I suggest going for an analogy.