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Why I Left Social Media

In January, I deleted most of my social media accounts. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn were deleted permanently. Twitter held on for a bit, but as of this evening, it's gone.

I joined Facebook in 2007 when it was the New Thing. It felt interesting and exciting. It allowed me to connect with new friends at university. When I spent a year abroad, I could share pictures of my adventures for friends and family back home to see. I spent a lot of time on that platform.

Over the years, I drifted away. I would endlessly scroll my Facebook feed but not interact with any of it. The connection with "friends" was superficial and the feed was increasingly cluttered with corporate advertisements and trending posts from people I'd never met. I noticed that it was affecting my personal happiness. When I saw pictures of old friends having a good time together, I felt sad that I was missing out, even though I was perfectly content before I saw the pictures. I decided that the drawbacks outweighed the benefits. A few years ago, I logged off and only rarely resurfaced.

More recently, I've been concerned with personal privacy. I'm uncomfortable with the amount of information that large tech platforms have on me. I've lost trust in their ability to protect my data and not use it for nefarious purposes. I don't have evidence that this has occurred, but I view the possibility as too great for comfort.

In the end, it was an easy decision to delete Facebook. Instagram was even easier and LinkedIn the easiest. But I still held on to Twitter.

I started using Twitter regularly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the only place to find truth about what was happening. When public health institutions...

Nemo Found

Nemo is an only child, born from tragedy to a single father, Merlin. Merlin is protective and is nervous to see him join school with his friends. In defiance of his father, Nemo swims out too far into open water and is caught by a scuba diver. Merlin sets off to rescue him with his hapless, forgetful companion, Dory. Along the way, Merlin overcomes obstacles, Nemo learns how to fend for himself in the world, and, fortunately, Nemo is found.

I recently watched Finding Nemo with my four-year-old son. I was struck by how differently I saw the movie compared to when I first watched it in my early teen years. Back then, it was a light-hearted story of a boy who wants more freedom from his overbearing father. He gets into some trouble but gets out of it with his dad's help. Now it's the story of a father who has to confront his only son's new need for independence, with the backdrop of enormous personal loss. When Nemo is abducted, Merlin will do anything to get him back.

One scene in particular, with commentary from my son, illustrates the difference in how children and parents view this movie.

Merlin and Dory are trapped in a large whale. For Merlin, this is how it ends. He laments that he's failed in his duty to protect his son.

Merlin: I promised him I'd never let anything happen to him.

Dory: Huh. That's a funny thing to promise.

I laughed at Dory's line. Because she's right. There's no way to uphold that promise. Sometimes things happen that can't be helped.

My son's response was the opposite: "No, that's not a funny promise! That's an important thing to promise!"

For a child, their parent is always there to save the day. Nemo is never in any real...

Why I Like Bitcoin

Note to reader: What follows is my current thinking on the broad topic of Bitcoin. I expect that I'll revise it periodically as I learn more. It's fairly long but not nearly exhaustive; each section only scratches the surface of what could be written about the topic. If you have a correction or want me to expand on something, add a comment or write me an email.

This post is prompted by the following:

previously presented the background information necessary for understanding how Bitcoin works. The purpose of this post is to concisely present why I think it's an important monetary technology for the world. I'll also discuss some of the risks and detractors.

A note on politics

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are politically associated with the libertarian right. In Canada, Conservative party leadership candidate (and front-runner) Pierre Poilievre has been a vocal proponent of Bitcoin, while also being critical of the Bank of Canada. This is not an uncommon position among "Bitcoiners"; fundamentally, Bitcoin is a decentralized monetary system with fixed issuance determined by an algorithm and not a central bank. If you believe that Bitcoin is a better system, then it generally follows that you dislike central banks. Austrian economists and libertarians are the most vocal proponents of Bitcoin for this reason.

This is an uncomfortable position for me because I consider myself to be politically moderate. I am sympathetic to some libertarian arguments, but I don't agree with their full world view. Because Bitcoin has...