False Idols Fall
A condescending rant from someone with no skin in the game for this disaster
Your time is up!
We’ve been counting down your days
Going over every false thing you say
We wish it could be different
Wished you stayed the same
Tearing down our idols
Living life our own way
Were we too blind to see
You were only human like me?
We can’t help but feel
They’re all you gave
— Comeback Kid, 2005
I’ve seen an amazing amount of tweets and posts from people that I respect and who have been around for years and years in this space that express feelings of betrayal and hurt. A common theme is that Sam Bankman-Fried was supposed to be “one of the good guys” and “the one who was going to make crypto legitimate”. Many people apparently even looked up to him as some sort of savant trader that controlled the events occurring in this space like some masterful puppeteer. To be honest, I’m more surprised to see this widespread reaction than I am that SBF turned out to be just another flawed human being, no greater than the sum of the worst parts of himself.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself with stating for fact what SBF did or did not know, because I don’t want to get sued, but what we have him saying on audio and video is unequivocal fact and the words he has spoken to us, and to the United States government, can not be reconciled with the past actions by any means other than the most extravagant leaps of faith performed by Olympic Gold Medal winning mental gymnasts.
So why am I opening this article with lyrics from a 17 year-old song? This is the music I grew up with, that I have been listening to since well before Comeback Kid formed as a band, and still to this very day. In the world I grew up in, the straightedge community specifically, your word and your principles were all that you had. It was 1 strike and you were out. It was common to see people we looked up to, and who made music that made us feel alive, fail to live up to the strict expectations put upon them by the “laws” of our community. It wasn’t a way of life for most beyond just a passing fad, but for those of us who held true to our principles, we learned something priceless: the value of personal responsibility.
Streets Of Rage 2 taught us all an important lesson about personal responsibility back in 1992
I suspect that those who have come and gone in our space, leaving destruction in their wake, do not value the principle of personal responsibility. “I wouldn’t have lost all of your money if this other entity hadn’t lied first!” Or maybe, “It‘s not our fault that you can’t withdraw your funds, the entity we allowed to use your funds as collateral defaulted, there’s nothing we could’ve done about it!” Maybe even you, dear reader, are guilty of this type of thinking. Perhaps you’d be able to pay your bills on time if some anonymous 15 year-old didn’t exploit the DeFi protocol you were using, causing you to lose all your funds.
There’s a common theme here though, and that is the deflection of responsibility onto another party. Was anyone forced to over-invest? Were there guns placed against heads or other threats of violence levied against exchange owners, forcing the exchanges to allow third-parties to collateralize user funds for external usage? Did you, dear reader, invest money you couldn’t afford to lose, only as a result of being placed under duress from an external actor? I suspect the answer to all of these questions is “no.” Just as the initial cause of an arrest for driving under the influence isn’t being caught by the police, but rather the choice to drive yourself to an establishment where you intended to consume alcohol, we all often make choices that start by assuming the probability of a negative outcome is negligibly low, or zero, and use that as an excuse to do whatever we want.
So I still haven’t answered “why” I opened up with lyrics to a song in this article. As a child, it’s normal to quickly idolize or hero worship charismatic and powerful figures in your community. However, as I alluded to earlier, from an early age I inserted myself into a hard-line community that had very little tolerance for those who couldn’t abide by the rules. The fall from grace of those I looked up to was a common occurrence, too common if I’m being honest. Were the rules of our little way of life reasonable? Probably not. It doesn’t matter though, does it? I signed up to them when I decided it was for me, and the people I looked up to agreed to the exact same terms. Nobody forced it on them. Money was made with concert tickets, merchandise sales, and CD (yes, compact disc) sales so that our little gang had music that made us feel alive. When we found out that our heroes were taking advantage of under-age girls after shows, abusing drugs and alcohol, and generally violating the trust of the community, the offenders were generally asked to leave, very kindly, with only a minimal amount of broken bones or missing teeth. Kids, am I right?!
The Defenestration of Prague — Christophe Boisvieux/Corbis via Getty Images
I stopped looking up to people long before I actually stopped physically growing. This long-running fraud perpetuated on my current community, the community to which we all belong, by various members of the FTX corporate entity, and SBF himself, is just another inevitable event in the eyes of this jaded old cynic. I’m not saying that I saw this coming, but I (thankfully) managed to make it out largely unscathed due to my refusal to place my trust in the hands of anyone other than those that I could physically reach out and smack. I have talked many times before in various group chats and podcasts about the possibility of low probability / high risk events with catastrophic outcomes for the space actually being much higher probability than most would think, especially post-LUNA.
So am I writing this article to rub your nose into the mess that you’ve found yourself in? It might seem like it up until now, but that’s not my purpose here. There’s many lessons to be learned from the craziness of 2022, but they aren’t necessarily that “billionaires are evil” or that “self custody is the only way forward because we can never trust any exchange”, though your mileage may generally vary on those statements. I’m writing this article to beg you to reflect on your life, and your choices, and think hard on the idea of personal responsibility. The shitty influencer who told you to buy a honeypot shitcoin didn’t make the transaction that stole your money for you, you chose to do it based on what they told you. Do Kwon didn’t cause you to lose your house or your failure to pay rent, because he didn’t force you to over-invest your money for high APR, you chose to do so based on trust, or greed, or whatever else you had going on in your mind. Should you still be angry at the influencer, or Do Kwon, or SBF for the part they played in your injury? Absolutely, 100% yes. No question. String them up by their eyelids in my opinion. Flay them in the town square. Hell, just do what the Czech did and throw them out of high windows onto cobbled streets.
But the first, and most important, decision that led to pain you are feeling started with you. The same way that every losing trade I take (and boy I’m on a bender right now) is ultimately my fault, as I’m the one who chose to enter the trade based on X, Y, and Z. Maybe I should’ve been more discerning, or careful, or less impulsive, whatever. I put the money on the table and I lost. Period. If I want to stop losing money I can either refuse to play, or take steps to improve the criteria by which I choose to risk my money. Alternatively, I can just keep marketing in to shitty positions and continue losing money while hoping I hit it big with my gambling account. I’ve posted on Twitter before about the shitty, basically predatory, spreads on DYDX at times, which make trading the asset with the shitty spreads a rigged game from the start. If I choose to play anyway, how is that DYDX’s fault?
There are no gods, and there are no heroes. In the words of the iconic Mel Gibson in the 2002 movie Signs: “there is no one watching out for us…”
In times like this, and in the wake of disasters of any kind, we should be good to one another. We should be kind, compassionate, patient, and understanding. I know that parts of this article may feel harsh, or pointed, but in addition to being kind, I think it is important that the right lessons be learned, and every choice we make yields an answer that is accompanied by an opportunity to learn. It’s okay to be angry at the many, many, many bad actors here from SBF at the top, to opportunistic shitbags swooping in at the 11th hour like @AlgodTrading, but make sure that you reflect on the choices that you made leading up to this catastrophe. What will you do differently next time?
I make mistakes every single day of my life. Some large, some small, some largely not even my fault, but ultimately they are mine to live with. The best that I can do is learn from them and do better next time. Accept your own personal failings and weaknesses instead of projecting them onto other people, or onto fate, or onto your favorite deity (according to everything they’ve all written, it’s fine, they’ll forgive you for it). I think you’ll find that in time it is very liberating, and may even lead to you generally making better decisions, or at least that’s my hope.
I leave, as I welcomed you, with song lyrics from another age.
I guess it was something inside
It was something more to us
A ‘hero’s fall’ will never change what I think
Because at the core of my heart
This is something more than ink
— Have Heart, 2006
Any views expressed in the below are the personal views of the author and should not form the basis for making investment decisions, nor be construed as a recommendation or advice to engage in investment transactions. As always, please do your own research. This is not financial advice. Every strategy is not for everyone. Each investor needs to understand what is right for them.
Sath is a passionate Jacksonville Jaguars fan who always roots for his team while whipping up meals in his trusty microwave. Despite his unorthodox cooking methods, Sath manages to create mouth-watering dishes that leave his friends and family craving for more.