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Generational Theory and The Historical Significance of Bitcoin

In a recent piece for CNN, journalist Kaya Yurleff made a rather startling announcement: emojis are dead…well, more or less. Says who? Generation Z, that’s who. Colloquially known as zoomers, these trendsetters were born between the years of 1996 and 2010. Everything lives, and everything dies. And emojis, we’re told, are on the way out. Times like these call for a yellow face sporting a slight frown, shedding a single, blue tear from one eye. Zoomers, however, would not approve.

Ostensibly, what we are witnessing here is the exorcism of emojis from society. On closer inspection, though, what we’re really witnessing is a generational shift, a shift in conceptual frameworks and cultural narratives. Can such shifts be used to explain bitcoin’s prominence?

In 1981, William Strauss and Neil Howe developed the Strauss–Howe generational theory. Every 25 years, generation demands change; fresh social, political, and economic norms are created, often radically different from those that came before them. Established institutions are attacked and weakened, all in the name of freedom. The generation demanding change can be seen as cultural architects; in order to build, however, they must first destroy.

1996, the year these architects first burst onto the scene, also happened to be the same year that internet banking went mainstream. The move to online financing revolutionized the way we do business. In fact, although the internet was available to the public in 1991, the world had to wait until 1996 for the likes of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail, which subsequently opened …
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