2021 was a weird year.
I dedicated nine months to losing 56 pounds and did just that … before most likely gaining every inch of it back since that fateful final weigh-in. We all tricked ourselves into thinking the COVID-19 pandemic was pretty much … fairly sure … yeah, it’s over … but wait, it really wasn’t, and now we’re seeing spikes in cases and variants across the country.
West Virginia’s own Joe Manchin became the hottest political story in months when he voiced his intention to stray from his friend President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Tom Brady won the Super Bowl at the age of 92. The 2020 Summer Olympics happened (again, in 2021) to no crowds, no fanfare and little to no headlines, other than athletes bringing the mental health conversation to the forefront.
There were trials and verdicts that made some people mad. There were trials and verdicts that made some people happy. I became an exclusive wine drinker (and I can’t believe that’s a real sentence). Bette Midler called West Virginians “poor, illiterate and strung out,” before walking it back to mixed reviews at best. Harpers Ferry politics became civil. Jefferson County lost its administrator. And, most absurd of all …
I bought cryptocurrency.
Yeah, it’s a secret, so please don’t tell anyone. I’m as surprised as you are. For someone who “writes checks” instead of “pays online” and doesn’t even know how to navigate Facebook, I am perhaps one of the last people on Earth who should be throwing money at such things.
But, as it goes, I found myself bartending a handful of months ago and a couple guys essentially came in and sold me on it. They weren’t strangers, I should say. That would be even more idiotic on my part. Instead, they were people about my age who have had some success doing those types of things.
So, I bit. Against my better judgement and against any modicum of self-awareness, I accepted the invitation to Coinbase, set up an account and put a very small amount of money in there to see what happens. And please put stress on the word “very,” because the notion of disposable income is utterly foreign to me, as journalism is not a profession to get into if you’re into things like making money.
“It’s definitely a gamble,” one of the guys told me. “You have to know that it really is a gamble, but you’re a gambler, right?”
“Well, yeah,” I said, knowing there’s a large difference between putting $20 on the Titans to cover the spread and saying, “Here’s my life savings, internet people! Do your magic!”
But, so it went. I looked at a couple articles online, loaded up my account and started to buy. Bitcoin seemed to be inevitable, so there was some of that. Dogecoin was another purchase, even though I knew its moment had come and gone (hey, buy low and hope for the best, right?). The rest were just shots in the dark, one with a name too good to pass up (OriginTrail) and something with the word “Stellar” in it (because let’s will this positivity into existence, no?), among other things.
The result? Well, I am clearly not the person for things like this. Why? Because I was told by these two crypto confidants to set it and forget it. Throw some money at it and don’t bother to look at it again for months, if not years. Keeping up on a day to day basis — let alone an hour to hour basis — was not wise, as the crypto market has become infamous for being less stable than a Kanye West relationship.
Naturally, as you can imagine, I initially began checking the app every 15 minutes. That has since subsided to “a few times a day,” which might sound better, but isn’t really all that better. And it’s especially not all that better when, a couple weeks ago, the whole thing took a plunge.
Without getting too deep into it, here’s a paragraph from Bloomberg’s Nick Baker and Olga Kharif, who wrote about the year in crypto earlier this week.
“Cryptocurrencies made a giant leap in 2021, expanding well beyond their niche among geeks and Redditors,” they wrote. Wall Street strengthened its embrace, with Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman declaring it no fad. New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams said he’ll initially get paid in Bitcoin. And tokenmania invaded pop culture, from sports, entertainment and gaming to high-end auctions. Even Major League Baseball umpires wore the FTX exchange’s logo on their chests.
“Yet, the industry often failed to get the basics right,” they continued, “still plagued by the same problems that have dogged it from the start: trading glitches, infrastructure snafus, hacks and other crypto weirdness.”
To read “hacks and other crypto weirdness” was quite the early Christmas present for someone as worried about money as I am. But they’re right. This thing has been a roller coaster. When I began, I kept earning money each day. Not a lot, of course. I’m talking cents and maybe a dollar here or there.
But these days? Hooooo boy. Not only am I consistently about 25% down from my initial investment, but even those numbers continue to dip to worrisome lows. And to be fair, that probably makes sense, considering how I know less than nothing about cryptocurrency, let alone what it is to trade, be it on regulated platforms like the stock market or these underworld venues that can gobble all your money up on a moment’s notice just because … well, just because.
Yet, as I was thinking about 2021, reflecting on the 12 months that were, the highs, lows and everything in between, I concluded that perhaps my foray into cryptocurrency is the most adequate way to sum up the last year. It’s an experience that I’m not yet ready to pull the plug on but also hasn’t panned out the way I would have hoped. It was also entirely out of my comfort zone and most likely irresponsible. It didn’t warrant any positive results, and now, I’m left wondering what to do about it.
That’s 2021 in a nutshell for me. Here’s to hoping 2022 ends up being a little more on the brighter side. Or, well, at least more grounded, stable or consistent. Because investments are no joke — be it in money, people or ideas. And when it comes to something like a made up, electronic, entirely new, invisible online currency, all investments, I can tell you from experience, should be considered with caution.
Or at least with input from two guys at a bar.
2021 was a weird year, indeed.