Tag: loss

The Frontier Isn’t Gone, It Just Isn’t Where We Thought

Craig Axford | United State

In his famous 1893 essay The Significance of the Frontier in American History, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner lamented the 1890 Census Report’s conclusion that the “frontier line” beyond which large tracts of unbroken land could still be found had ceased to exist. “Therefore,” the report concluded, the frontier would “no longer have a place in the census reports.”

Turner believed, not without good reason, that America’s character was substantially if not entirely a product of its first century of westward expansion. He summed his thesis up early, writing in the second paragraph:

The peculiarity of American institutions is, the fact that they have been compelled to adapt themselves to the changes of an expanding people — to the changes involved in crossing a continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life.

With the frontier more than a century and a quarter behind us— at least according to the US Census Bureau — American institutions were perhaps never as challenged by the physical presence of a frontier as individuals are now by its absence. Without a landscape to test and define us, we are left to shape our own lives without the former environmental constraints imposed by a hostile natural world that needed taming. That’s a great luxury few before us have enjoyed, but not one that comes without personal cost.

Modern humanity has largely forgotten that not so long ago Mother Nature was a much greater imminent threat than it is today. We set aside “wilderness areas” and engage in activities like skydiving in large part because contemporary society is so safe it’s now necessary to seek out opportunities to experience a little bit of danger. From vaccination and seatbelts to chlorinated water and coffee cups with temperature warnings, civilization has successfully marshaled its resources to protect us from disease and injury. Distances that brought the pioneers of the 19th century weeks of hardship we typically travel in a weekend in air-conditioned comfort with time to spare for camping, hiking, mountain biking, or rafting. If we return to the office from these excursions Monday morning with a couple of visible scratches we feel we’ve proved our courage to our often envious co-workers.

The obstacles we must overcome no longer exist out there. Now it’s our own internal demons that we must conquer. The threats these pose are more subtle than mountain ranges or vast advances of desert. They play upon our capacity for self-deception and our skill as architects of elaborate rationalizations. Toying with our emotions they cause us to fear the other while assuring us that our own faults are actually strengths in disguise.

The unknown remains, as it always will. But on our home planet, the undiscovered places tend to be nooks and crannies rather than lost cities or unexplored canyons. To the extent, we pursue it the thrill of discovery is now much more personal than it is public. Those looking for fulfillment climb the peak because they have never climbed it before, knowing full well that hundreds if not thousands ascended it before them. It is their own curiosity more than humanity’s that they’re attempting to satisfy.

But for most of us, the experiences we settle for typically perform a much baser function. Instead of seeking meaning and sharing what we learn from the search, we record experiences as a means of keeping score. Selfies taken here and there serve to advertise things we got to do that others we know perhaps didn’t. Our smartphones provide both the soundtrack and the camera for a movie about ourselves we hope will get more clicks than whatever the proverbial Joneses may have posted. Many of us no longer even bother to edit the content we share, speaking whatever pops into our head or photographing ourselves whenever the mood strikes. Even our “leaders” are now increasingly getting in on the act. What we write isn’t as important as how often we write and how many people we get to follow us while we do it.

In a race that’s won by the person or group receiving the most attention, easy and shallow pastimes are a far more efficient means of generating material than activities requiring effort, planning, research and other forms of deep engagement. Unfortunately, attention will always be a poor substitute for meaningful relationships and banality will never be as fulfilling as pursuits that expand our horizons.

Frederick Jackson Turner concluded that the frontier had rendered “Movement” the “dominant fact” of American history during the country’s first century of nationhood. He argued that “the American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise…in spite of environment, and in spite of custom, each frontier did indeed furnish a new field of opportunity, a gate of escape from bondage of the past; and freshness, and confidence, and scorn of older society, impatience of its restraints and its ideas, and indifference to its lessons, have accompanied the frontier.”

Today there is no longer an opportunity to escape to fresh unsettled territory, but there are still frontiers galore for each of us to explore. In the absence of blank places on the map enticing us onward, we are faced with empty spaces within ourselves. It is our fear and ignorance that we must strive to overcome to find our “new field of opportunity.” For each of us, this frontier will offer somewhat different challenges and take unique shapes. But if we can transcend the easy narcissistic fixes that consumerism and social media invite us to indulge, who knows what we might be able to discover that’s truly worthy of sharing along the way.

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him at Medium.com

Other recent stories by Craig include: Epigenetics: Where Biology And Culture Meet & Are You Getting Enough Awe In Your Experiential Diet?

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THE BITCOIN FOMO SELLOFF IS HERE?

By Jesse Stretch | USA

Newcomer Bitcoin hotshots are panicking on Reddit, crypto forums, everywhere. We read these quotes and sigh:

“Why is it crashing? Help!”

“Soon it will be worthless. SELL OUT NOW.”

“Bitcoin is dying! Agh!”

According to an article in Newsweek, the international suicide hotline is/was advertising on the Cryptocurrency Reddit forums.

The “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO sell-off attitude in the crypto space prompts criticism from a wide host of onlookers and participators alike, and yet as it occurs, those same writers preaching “hold hold” have their Binance accounts open dumping everything they can back into Coinbase on the prayer of cashing out ahead or at a slight loss.

But alas how some of us forget that this was and is the point.

Volatility. Lots of movement. Big Charts. Big gains, big losses.

Without volatility, cryptocurrency is boring. After all, what small or medium-sized investor wakes up and checks the price of Ford stock every single day—virtually none. Glance at the Ford Stock Reddit and see that in the top four topics is this heading, Why does Ford price fluctuate so little day to day?… Enough said. The stock market is basically a bore to this caliber investor, and rightfully so.

Young crypto-minded investors don’t want to wait. The tech culture doesn’t have time to wait. We need lunch delivered to the office, we need fast electric cars, we need Prime for toilet paper, leggings, and custom bearding kits. We don’t have a decade to gain 40% on Ford stock like Grandpa did. In a decade, many of the Bitcoin investors will be in their late twenties or early thirties—nearly dead and/or retired! There’s simply no time to wait for the NYSE.

Bitcoin is a rollercoaster, and roller coasters are a short, wild ride; but, the ride starts again at some point or another when new people get on. Sometimes, if you know the ride operator like we did when we worked at the theme park growing up, you get to ride over and over again as many times as you like. When you’re done, you have nothing to show for it, but it was a wild ride. Such is the same with Bitcoin—but maybe not if you hold.

In his seminal guide, the Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham espouses the idea that in the instance of a very large short-period investment gain of over 100%, the investor should consider selling half of the investment to safeguard the principal and capture some gain on the initial capital. This is an easy theory to read and comprehend, but it’s a bit harder to practice. One might argue that with prices moving from $10k to $20k and back to $10k, all essentially inside of one rolling month’s time, this is exactly what has happened—profit grabbing, a correction, a harvest of income. It is one of the most common occurrences in high-risk investing.

My point here is that the FOMO selloff on Tuesday and Wednesday the 17th and 18th of January of 2018 were expected, was predicted, is expected to continue for an indefinite time, and is likely not the “end” of crypto-currency. People harvest profits, and harvesting profits lower the market cap and price of the stock or commodity. This is normal. What we are seeing here is just another exaggeration of what would usually take much longer to happen in your grandad’s brokerage account.

In crypto, the equivalent of weeks on the NYSE happens in mere minutes, sometimes moments. Percentage gains and losses are exacerbated by an eager, new, and often timid investor who is likely not as flush or seasoned as the rich boys on Wall Street. For this reason, there is a great hunger for a rapid gain and a great fear of a rapid loss. Were it Gold these crypto investors were trading in, we’d see the movements occur much slower, but this isn’t gold—it isn’t, arguably, anything.

The FOMO selloff may be just so, or rather it may also be a high-volume version of the traditional marketplace profit grab. Tomorrow, Bitcoin may be worth $2. Tomorrow, Bitcoin may be worth $25,000. Neither would surprise anyone with a history in this market space. The fear (and the hope) is real.

But as bulls, let’s be optimistic: Any high-volume selloff will ultimately increase the strength of the crypto market, should it sustain itself, because it will trim out the weak-stomached investor. When this investor returns, he/she will return with a confidence in the market, which will make FOMO selloffs less likely to occur in the future. Should the crypto market continue to grow over the coming years, this is how its legacy and stability will be forged. The new investor must experience both gain and loss, and then a recovery from loss, in order to develop a trust and a respect for the market, and through time this trust will stabilize the currency and lessen its fluctuation as an investment vehicle and/or pseudo-commodity.

And so as you distractedly read this article, I will continue clicking my mouse to see if Coinbase will finally process the lagging sale all of my holdings and transfer them safely back to my FDIC insured big-brother bank account—all for a hefty but reasonable fee.

Relax… I’m kidding…


Author’s Note: The author currently holds positions in numerous cryptocurrencies and is not engaged in a volume-oriented selloff of these positions—but he knows you are.