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The Influencers

Cryptocurrency? I’m Not Buying It

INFLUENCER: R/GA London's Mitya Katkin reflects on the five stages of (crypto) grief

Cryptocurrency? I’m Not Buying It

After months of increasing annoyance provoked by comments like, “I know a guy who invested in Bitcoin five years ago and he made, like, a hundred million dollars” and, “She bought this when it was a fraction of a penny” I finally decided to do some proper research. And what I faced a few weeks later broke me out in a cold sweat. I Googled my symptoms and it all became clear - the end is nigh.

Or at least my end is nigh, according to the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, also known as the 5 Stages of Grief. The model traces the emotional states someone goes through when they’re mourning the loss of a loved one, or approaching their own death. The stages are as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’m already at no.2. The 5 stage model was introduced by Swiss psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in a book called ‘Death and Dying’ published in 1969 (definitely a before-you-die must-read). IMHO, it clearly shows what happens when you try to understand crypto.

Stage no.1: Denial.

“It can't be happening”; ”Bitcoin doesn’t even exist anyway”. Denial is a temporary defence, giving us time to absorb news about change before we move onto other stages. It’s the initial phase of numbness and shock. You don't want to believe that change is in the air and if you can pretend that change is not happening, if you keep it at a distance, then maybe it will all go away. Like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Or more like a human burying their head in a pile of crisp cash.


Stage no.2: Anger.

“Life’s not fair!”; “Why didn’t I buy it in 2008?!”. This is the stage when you move from a ‘preferable reality’ to an ‘actual reality’. Or in our present case ‘actual virtuality’. You get angry and look for someone to blame. It’s the stage I first found myself in and it hits you like a truck. My truck came in the form of small talk in the morning lift ride up to the 5th floor, which is just enough time for someone to share with you how rich they’ve just become. You must be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless.


Stage no.3: Bargaining.

“If only I could get lucky with one ICO ”; “At least I’m not like that guy who lost everything”; “Maybe this one’s gonna be big”. After the fire of anger has died down, the next stage is a desperate round of bargaining, hoping against hope to make the best of the situation. It’s where you start all-night Googling: you familiarise yourself with the crazy story of Satoshi Nakamoto, get up to speed with all the jargon, download dozens of apps and consider buying some of the newest currencies instead of going to the pub on Friday. But that Friday you end up in the pub anyway, because buying crypto is not as easy as saying “fruity pale ale please”.


Stage no.4: Depression.

“It’s impossible to get into this”; “What's the point of trying?”; “The moment is gone – I could never become a HODLer”. Your life has just broken into many tiny pieces, or satoshis so to speak. Welcome to my current state. You realise that bargaining is not going to work and the reality of the situation sets in. You see a painful end with nothing beyond it – everyone is a billionaire except you. You don’t want to be around people, and you don’t feel like talking, especially to all those annoying folk who are happy investing. The one thing I’d invest in now is NEM – because someone gave me 30 of them on a whim. But all I’ve managed to do is send a paltry 10 NEM to my brother, so he can jump straight to Depression. And I’m not willing to invest anymore for now, not until I’ve made it to the next stage...


Stage no.5: Acceptance.

“F**k it”; “I can do this”; “Honey, how about selling our house?”. As you realise that just being sad about the change is not going to make it go away, you move into acceptance. Think of it like riding a train into a tunnel – you don't know what's in there, but you hope there's light at the end. And there are loads of trains heading into a lot of different tunnels, and you’re trying to catch them all. At this stage, it doesn’t mean you’ll never have another bad day and considering crypto you probably will. But you have come to a point of peace and you’re looking forward to the future.

If you or a loved one are having a hard time getting into crypto it’s important to know that your reactions and feelings are normal and not a sign of weakness or the result of an arts degree. Kubler-Ross emphasised that we move around between the stages. You may feel in a state of acceptance, but then while you’re getting coffee at work and you hear “the Bitcoin bubble is about to burst!” you may find yourself thrown back into anger or denial.

Before you start identifying the stage you’re currently in, look out for symptoms, as I did: headaches, difficulty sleeping, questioning the purpose of life, feelings of detachment, isolation from friends and family, anxiety, guilt, frustration, loss of appetite. (FYI many of these may well have something to do with a certain season’s finale). If we can begin to really see how much change is on the horizon, then we might need to come up with a unified process of crypto adoption on an individual, but most importantly governmental, level. However, it’s hard to believe that any government, even the most progressive one, is ready to accept its own death.

Disclaimer: none of the above should be treated as advice to buy or sell any kind of asset. But if you are still searching for where to invest – invest in Experience Design. “Oh man, it’s mooning! You’re gonna be a whale in no time!” as someone who has finally reached Stage no.5 might put it.



Mitya Katkin is Experience Designer R/GA London

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