The End of the Innocence
Hello from the other side. I hope you are well. Truly. I don’t have much else to say — we are in the midst of a battle with the Final Boss. I don’t think it is helpful to pat your head and tell you it will be OK or that the ultimate bottom is near.
Instead, I would like to tell you a story.
In February 2021, like many others, I woke up to no power in Austin, Texas. It was freezing cold. I walked into my living room and realized we were experiencing some sort of freak winter storm, 100 year weather patten type shit.
Similar to how I enjoy a good thunderstorm, there was a bit of romantic energy to it. I grabbed some blankets, fired up my phone to browse social media and thought about what books I would read today without any lights. “Luckily I’ve gone camping a few times,” I thought to myself. Do any other yuppies in my building have a nice sleeping bag? Doubtful. I’m crushing it.
The next day, the water stopped working. Hmm. Ok this is kind of annoying but again, there’s something fun about having to deal with these Apocolypse-Lite problems. I figured it would certainly make a good story someday. I kept in touch with neighbors and friends in the area and everyone seemed to be on the same page.
I began to hear about people having a hard time. Couldn’t be me, I remember thinking lol. This too shall pass. I mean, my landlord is going to take care of this, right? Right.
Then Day 3 came around. Ok so now I’m actually running out of food. And water. Wait but I live in a really nice building — aren’t they going to solve this? I mean surely no one is ACTUALLY going to let this devolve into a problem? Imagine the lawsuits? Right?
But all my battery packs were empty and I needed to charge my phone. I walked around town and there was one building with power on because it was connected to the hospital. I sat in the lobby charging my phone. By now, I was on 4G and it barely worked — that’s what happens when 300,000 people all try using their cellphone at the same time.
As I sat in the lobby, I looked out over the pavilion in front of the local Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods, the biggest grocery store in ATX, was closed because no trucks could get into the city. Most other grocery stores were closed. TJ’s was the only game in town.
A line formed. 50 people. Then 100 people. Then 200 people. They were letting a few in at a time to “get the essentials” and get out.
As the first few shoppers walked out with *two* bags of groceries, I started hearing comments being yelled out.
“Yo what the fuck bro, why do you need so many groceries?”
“Hey my daughter is really hungry, do you really need to take all that food?”
It’s impossible to describe how unsettling the energy was in this moment but now I understand the famous quote — “We are 9 days away from the end of the United States.”
The momentum was building. Laser eyes were replaced with gun powder. This is not OK.
That night I sat in the back of my buddy’s truck and we drank whiskey and ate some snacks. It felt like we were on the precipice of something sinister…not just for the community but for ourselves. Like, was I actually going to start going hungry? And run out of water?
This is about 70 hours into a “fun” and novel experience. I knew that if things weren’t figured out in the next day, some weird shit was going to happen. not just to “other people” but to me. I honestly didn’t know what I would have done.
The next day I woke up to bright lights and hot water. Grocery stores opened that night. Relief washed over me. Comfort flooded my veins.
I now had a wonderful story to tell for the rest of my life instead of a life-altering pivot point.
We are in a similar situation now with the global markets.
I am no doomsday person (for better or worse) but I do see some similarities in what happened in Texas to what’s happening now, specifically in the crypto and tech equity worlds. Funny how the laws of nature apply to both so well.
The markets, the asset prices within markets, have been given the same levels of dopamine that we have been given with the last 12 year bull market in tech. A majority of our energy has not been focused on getting better, it’s been focused on making things easier.
Less work, more output. Everyone gets to enjoy winning. Mediocrity and Greatness are celebrated equally because everything is measured by price. Our power grid was providing unlimited electricity for pennies on the dollar. Clean water rushed through our homes at the flick of a switch.
It was all so glorious. You just had to be in the game and you won. Just keep buying. Quit your shitty job and let your FIRE assets do the work. You deserve it.
But like all orgies of hedonism, eventually the dopamine runs out. Instead of beaming with pride about how good our last tweet was we are seriously considering whether we should own a gun to protect our food.
It happens quicker than we expect. The innocence of perpetual childhood dies in an immediate, painful fashion. Stairs up, elevator down.
As we watch the crypto markets capitulate, we do our best to keep a clear head. Anyone who’s been around for a few cycles knows how this goes.
Pull up your favorite “stages of a bear market” meme and see what you’re feeling today. Complacency, depression, anger, etc.
For years we’ve grown to be OK with this because eventually everything goes back to being up only. Time simply brings us towards our next huge win. HODL.
But what I would volunteer is asking yourself if the electricity is really going to come back to your warm, comfortable apartment before things get ugly. Is the water just going to turn back on before you really need it? Maybe. Maybe not.
We’ve gotten so used to being saved that most of us, myself included, cannot fathom a life of true capitalist destruction. Winners are the ones who win, losers actually….lose. Want to make money? You need to provide something that people will pay for when they’re standing in line for food they really, really need.
This is an extreme analogy but it also isn’t. When prices double for the things we need most — mortgages, food, gas, housing — what are we actually going to pay for? It might seem extreme now but wait another 12 months and then ask the same question.
I believe in the future and I believe in technology. I do think that everything will be OK in 5–10 years time. In fact, it will probably be better than we ever imagined.
But the days of “hey what level should I buy BTC at so I can hold for the next cycle” are quickly dying. The air is being sucked out of the room and you’re wondering what sort of air conditioner to buy for when it comes back. I mean, you can get such a great deal on the air conditioner now LOL.
I hope I am wrong and things turn around in the next 6–12 months. As all degenerates say, “Lord, just give me one more bubble.” I’m right there with you.
But the writing on the wall is saying that we are entering a world where it’s going to be hard to make money. Not just in markets, anywhere. And the people who are going to make it big are not the ones who wax poetically about the innocent, easy path that got us here.
I encourage you, my dear friend, to ask yourself what you’re willing to do if this isn’t a “buy the dip + wait it out” situation. What would you do if there’s no 10x in the coming years?
What would you do if the power ran out and the power company simply told you “hey look…we fucked out and blew the generators, it’s not coming back for a few months.”
Would you sit back and wait for someone to save you? For Jerome Powell to have mercy on your soul and feed you more more IV of that sweet, sweet 0% interest cocktail?
Or would you step up your game, learn to win in any environment and emerge from your delayed adolescent slumber as the champion you really are?
Tough times create strong men. Easy times create weak men.
We are on Day 2 of the Texas power outage. You’re still thinking that, yeah there might be a bear market, but eventually it will be Up Only again. You have not gone shopping for food, you do not have reserves of water. You do not have the skills to survive because you’re banking on someone else to come turn the power back on.
For all I know, everything could work out just fine. In a year from now, we’re all back to watching Netflix and shitposting on Twitter, our financial future laughably secure.
But I wouldn’t bet on it.
Now is the time to become a champion. Learn to trade profitably on all markets. Start a business that works. Sell things the people want. Step up your game at your job.
The game has changed. This time it’s different.