I don’t understand a lot about Bitcoin. But as the mother of a son trying to become a crypto millionaire, there’s one thing I do know.

The other day, when a proud uncle offered me an interview with his nephew who “killed it on crypto for the past few months,” I thought with pain of my son, who had just come back from college and emerged from his cluttered room and stared disturbed on his cell phone, as if he had learned devastating news.

“What’s happening?” I asked in panic.

Readers, brace yourself: he bought $ 100 worth of Dogecoin for 5 cents a coin and wasn’t willing to lose that much money on a coin that started as a joke, and feared that the price would go down – sold it for the same amount.

And now it was 65 cents. It was a $ 1,200 windfall that would not be his. “I can’t even …” he said and withdrew to his hiding place.

Let’s pause here to acknowledge that, as obsessed with crypto as some people – many of them young, manly, and tech-savvy – other people, in many cases the obsessed’s parents, are confused, disinterested, or suspicious. You know it’s there, but it feels so far away.

Even if they read primers – how “A Brief History of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Everyone Should Read“(Forbes); or How Cryptocurrency Works For Dummies: History And Facts (Vave) – the information doesn’t get stuck. But maybe it’s time to learn. In March, PayPal announced that users Pay for purchases with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Back to the crypto bros. Never mind that many just got into crypto during the pandemic to scratch the gambling itch when there weren’t any sports to bet on or that they weren’t doing a lot of “research”. Your days will be passed with regret.

You didn’t buy Bitcoin or Ethereum or Dogecoin early enough. Or they did, but they weren’t buying enough. Or they panicked when prices fell and instead of taking advantage of the bargains and buying more, they would sell their inventory. To put it in memes – the preferred type of scholarship for this crowd – you should “buy the dip.”

Your ego is tied to events that are beyond your control. China calls for a crackdown on cryptocurrencies and their holdings are taking a hit. Or a ruthless billionaire (Elon Musk) goes on a comedy show (Saturday Night Live) and jokes about Dogecoin, and it goes down in value.

How Amy Castor, an independent reporter focused on cryptocurrencies and has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, to say the least, “Once you own some type of cryptocurrency, it messes up your mind.”

Investments have always been a stress factor, of course. But what I saw in my usually Zen son was more than just a person who wished they had invested more in an index fund.

My maternal impression that crypto regret is particularly intense was confirmed by experts who told me that the cryptocurrency market is like the stock market on steroids.

Your investment can soar to a ridiculous amount – at its peak in early May, Dogecoin had it gained more than 26,000 percent in the past six months, according to CNBC – and it can be a ridiculous amount too.

The crypto world runs around the clock and is available directly on your phone. You could be at your own wedding party, peek while the bride fondles cake on your face, and get honeymoon news.

At this point, even Donald Trump doesn’t get that much media coverage. It’s in the Wall Street Journal, on South Park and Family Guy, and in Gwyneth Paltrows Twitter feed.

“If you invest in a stock and the price goes up and you sell it, that’s it. You don’t keep track of that stock and don’t realize, oh, maybe I should have held it longer,” said Tom Meyvis, professor at Stern School of Business from New York University and an expert on consumer behavior.

But, he said, “it’s hard to avoid with cryptocurrency because it’s on the front page all the time.”

It’s also in group chats and subreddits. “People who invest in cryptocurrency often have friends who invest in cryptocurrency and they will tell you how much it will go up,” Meyvis said.

“The problem with social comparisons,” he noted, “is that they provide asymmetrical information. Your friends brag when it’s up there and are quieter during the falls. “

I would have thought that a recent collapse in the crypto market would have people who beat themselves up for not having enough to feel good about for a change.

But no. Instead, because “anticipated regret” torments many people, they are stressed that if they don’t jump in now, when prices are lower than highs, they will be missing out again, said Utpal Dholakia, a marketing professor and expert on consumer behavior from Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

“If I don’t buy Bitcoin or Ethereum now,” he said, “and it goes up to $ 100,000, how will I feel?”

How will i feel

For the first time I thought about how it affected me. Why shouldn’t I share in these riches too? I called to my son in the next room: “Buy the dip!” I screamed.


Beth Teitell can be reached at beth.teitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.

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