What the Hell Is Bitcoin? A Useful Explainer for Beginners


LOL just kidding, I don’t understand it. Probably because it’s pretend money.

Illustration by Woody Harrington

In last month’s issue of Philly Mag, my good friend and colleague, Christy Lejeune, wrote about how the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to embrace a new hobby for the sake of one’s general mental health. Christy was so convincing that I promptly went out and found myself a hobby. My hobby is asking people whether they understand bitcoin. So far, no one does. And, I regret to report, this includes some people who have invested money in bitcoin­ — invested fairly heavily, IMHO, for people who have no clue what bitcoin is.

But that’s okay, because somebody must know, right? I mean. Just the other day, I was in Redner’s supermarket and saw a new advertisement printed on the conveyor belt that carries your butter and eggs up to the cashier. “Buy $10 Get $10,” it proclaimed. “Get $10 FREE Bitcoin when you buy $10 worth of Bitcoin at the in-store Coin Cloud DOM.” What a country, right? Now you can use your hard-earned cash to buy imaginary money right from a machine at the grocery store!

I know what you’re going to tell me here, especially you smart-ass young people who think you know everything just because you actually remember to try turning it off and…

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