This is an opinion editorial by Trey Walsh, the senior director for youth programs at the MassHire Metro North Workforce Board of Somerville, Massachusetts.
Our world has seen dramatic shifts and changes over the past several years: a global pandemic, war, political unrest and a growing sense of pessimism toward governments, the future health of our planet and our global financial system. And there is one group, particularly in the Western world and United States, that has grown increasingly dissatisfied and, in some cases, hopeless above the rest: Gen Z.
But I believe there is one big reason for hope that this generation hasn’t fully realized yet: Bitcoin.
There are countless studies and articles discussing Gen Z and the mental health crises that this generation faces in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, inequality, politics, socio-economic and labor market conditions and more. Understandably so, these factors have taken a toll on this generation, and there continues to be an overarching narrative of hopelessness, from environmentalist groups that have, in many instances, placed the burden of future climate catastrophe on this younger generation that now faces “climate anxiety,” to politicians labeling each election as a fight for our democracy/nation. Previous generations were offered more reasons for optimism — including relative affordability of the middle-class American dream — than my generation of millennials being encouraged to be what we wanted to be and to see innovation and creativity at every turn. While my generation has also seen the crushing reality of the great financial crises, student debt and some similar anxieties to those faced by Gen Z, we still have the benefit of having grown up in an age of limitless possibility through the advent of the internet, which has better prepared us for the state of the world today.
I have seen firsthand the effects of these issues on the younger generation. In my role as the senior director of youth programs for a Somerville, Massachusetts-based nonprofit working with high school partners in our region, it’s clear to me that our youth are facing grim outlooks, from trying to get through school during COVID-19 and the dismal state of virtual learning at the time, to trying to prepare for the future and navigating work, college and mental health challenges, all while many of these students also work to assist with their own families’ basic needs.
Teachers are overworked and underpaid and students lack the support needed to navigate these issues. Families are burdened with rising inflation, lack of savings and college has yet (if ever) to become more affordable. Hope, if ever it is to be found, has not been the dominant narrative over these past few years. However, there is much to be hopeful for with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin, just like the internet, increases its use cases and possibilities each year. Since Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper dropped on October 31, 2008 in the wake of a great financial crisis, hope has increasingly been found in the possibilities and use cases of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Is Hope For The Environment
A popular narrative from mainstream media, politicians (particularly from the Democratic party, of which I am a registered voter), and large environmentalist groups is that Bitcoin is bad for the environment. End of discussion.
Unfortunately, many in Gen Z have been presented with this as fact, whereas the reality is that the possibilities of Bitcoin, particularly through mining and the positive effects it can have on our environment, are quite limitless and just being realized. Bitcoin incentivizes further build out of renewable energy and can off-set carbon emissions, stabilize energy grids, bring energy to remote destinations around the world via financial incentives and do so much more. Young people facing climate anxiety should be taught the benefits of Bitcoin on our environment and see all of the great potential in tackling climate change while also spreading prosperity and stability to those most in need.
Bitcoin Is Hope For A More Socially-Just Economic System
Gen Z is greatly concerned about injustice, inequality and corporate greed and it is increasingly skeptical of “capitalism.” Bitcoin offers equal access — a transparent system that cannot be manipulated or controlled. We are doing a disservice to this younger generation by not sharing with them the progressive ideas inherent in Bitcoin that promote financial freedom and greater equality. Shall we let banks and the rich be the early adopters of Bitcoin, or should we frame Bitcoin as something that incentivizes Gen Z to hold this freedom technology?
Bitcoin Is Hope For Democracy
Gen Z is increasingly skeptical of politicians and our political process in the United States. With Bitcoin, and on a bitcoin standard, fiat incentives in politics are more drastically limited.
Regardless of intention, Bitcoin is a system based on “don’t trust, verify,” which means more accountability in our politics, and less manipulation and trust needed. Now, this by no means completely fixes politics or guarantees a perfect utopian democracy, but it can give hope to this generation that wants their voices to be heard, and wants freedom and agency to control their narrative and see a better world. I think this is a much greater selling point than what the World Economic Forum will offer.
This list of hope via Bitcoin is just the beginning. Gen Z deserves the opportunity to be presented with the stories of hope in Bitcoin, rather than beaten down with the future hellscape that has increasingly taken a devastating toll on this generation. While Gen Z fights for a better future, Bitcoin must play a central role in this fight for the outcomes they hope to achieve to become a reality.
This is a guest post by Trey Walsh. Opinions expressed are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc, Bitcoin Magazine or his employer.