How I Learned to Deal with My Bitcoin FOMO

As Bitcoin's price shoots up, the world is full of people with regrets. I was one of them.

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Dec 18 2017, 2:00pm

Image: RomarioIen/Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, a good friend sent me a message proposing what he defined as “a fun thought exercise:” search my email account for the first mention of Bitcoin and look up how much it was worth back then to figure out how much money we could have now if we had invested.

I’m not sure what was the price of Bitcoin when my friend sent me that message, but it was probably way less than half of what it is today ($17,552 at the time of writing, but by the time I’m done you read it it’ll probably be outdated.) The point of this exercise, of course, was to deal with regret. It’s been a recurring joke between me and my friend. Back in 2013, we talked about buying some Bitcoin. At the time it was worth a bit more than $100. I remember saying: if it goes down to around $70 again I will buy. It never went down that much, and I never bought until very recently. My friend and I feel dumb that we didn’t put some money into Bitcoin back in the day, and we're not alone.

If you’ve been on Twitter or any other social media the last couple of weeks, you must have seen the regret.

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Some people have been re-calculating the worth of historical Bitcoin heists, others have lamented how much they paid for literal horse shit in Bitcoin, or how much alpaca socks cost in 2011.

I'm obsessed with these stories because I always dreamed of winning the lottery (spoiler: it’s hard to win it if you never play it) and retiring on a private island. I feel like making money on Bitcoin is kinda like playing the lottery, only I was close to winning.

This last month, as the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed from $7,000 to almost $20,000, there have been countless people doing the math on their missed opportunity.

READ MORE: Cryptocurrencies Aren’t Crypto

If you have a similar story and you want to know how much your missed investment is like now, there’s a handy and masochistic website called Bitcoin FOMO Calculator. (FOMO, for the non-millennials out there, is an acronym for “fear of missing out.”) The site is very simple: You tell it how much you would have invested at what point in time, and it tells you how much you’d have right now.

That FOMO is likely why I’m obsessed with stories of missed opportunities, stolen wallets, untimely cash outs, expensive pizzas, and totally random people who might have become millionaires with weird stunts, such as this:

Or a hacker, who asked people to “Donate BitCoins for more lulz” and got 478 Bitcoin ($7,672,002.77). Or, remember the guy who threw away a hard drive with 7,500 Bitcoin in it? That’s now worth $117,742,462.

Luckily, there’s now a site dedicated to collecting all these stories. It’s called Oh, My Coins! And it allows anyone to submit their sad cryptocurrency story. As of today, $3,778,157,178 have been lost, according to this site.

There’s no way to know whether any of these stories are true. The site’s creator told me he doesn’t do any vetting. But it’s really hard for me to look away.

“I got high on LSD and had a bad trip, causing me to go crazy and set my laptop on fire. I thought my laptop was garden gnome, that was trying to kill me. FML,” wrote one person, saying he lost 10,000 BTC (worth $156,210,000.)

The Bitcoin FOMO is real.

In case you’re wondering, back in 2013, when I was thinking of buying, I probably would have bought only $100 worth of Bitcoin. So, had I bought back then instead of hesitating, I’d probably have around $10,000 right now. In other words, no Caribbean beach or margaritas yet.

Also, hindsight is 20/20, and anyone can be a good investor if they could go back in time. That's not unique to Bitcoin. So don’t beat yourself up. Personally, I coped with my FOMO by delighting in other people’s misfortunes, and realizing that investing in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency is kind of like playing the lottery. Could you get rich by buying a lottery ticket? Sure, but you’re also not going to beat yourself up for not winning.

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