The Art Of The HODL
1. To hold onto something [bitcoin] tightly with no intention of letting it go
2. To hold on for dear life
Origin: Misspelling of the word hold on a 2013 bitcointalk.org post
Like many great memes, HODL was immaculately conceived. It was not engineered, brainstormed, or planned. It sprung suddenly into existence on December 18th, 2013. In a span of 24 hours, the price of bitcoin had fallen 39%, from above $700 to under $500. Then, at 10:03 UTC, a Bitcointalk.org user by the name of GameKyuubi, infused with emotion and whiskey, published a post titled “I AM HODLING”:
“I type d that tyitle twice because I knew it was wrong the first time. Still wrong. w/e. BTC crashing WHY AM I HOLDING? I’LL TELL YOU WHY. It’s because I’m a bad trader and I KNOW I’M A BAD TRADER… You only sell in a bear market if you are a good day trader or an illusioned noob. The people inbetween hold. In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can only take your money if you sell.”
Little did GameKyuubi know at the time, but he had just coined a new term and planted the seed for one of the most powerful Bitcoin memes to date. At 10:14 UTC, 11 minutes after the original post, user piramida posted this graphic:
And the rest, as they say, is history.
What Is A Meme?
“Who controls the memes controls the universe.” – Elon Musk
To fully appreciate the significance of HODL, it is first necessary to understand the significance of memes. When most people think of memes, they probably think of images with funny captions:
While this is certainly a type of meme, memes do not necessarily need to be funny, nor do they need to be images. Google defines meme as “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.”
Although the term “meme” was only recently coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, its roots go back thousands of years. Meme comes from the Ancient Greek word mīmēma, which means ‘imitated thing,’ and was designed to resemble the word gene.
The late ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna spoke abundantly of memes to live audiences during the 1990s;
“What a gene is to biology, a meme is to ideology… Launch your meme boldly and see if it will replicate—just like genes replicate, and infect, and move into the organism of society. And, believing as I do that society operates on a kind of biological economy, then I believe these memes are the key to societal evolution,” – Terrance McKenna
Read that quote again and again, until the idea that memes are only silly internet posts is erased from your mind. Everyone understands the significance of genes in the world of biology. Yet, few understand the significance that memes play in the world of ideas.
McKenna’s above definition of meme is the most eloquent I have seen. Analogies and metaphors convey information in a way that standard descriptions cannot. To my knowledge, the precision of the gene–meme…
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