To those in the bitcoin community, especially the enthusiasts, forking with a cryptocurrency is believed to be unhealthy for the crypto ecosystem. Some even gave this activity the name “contentious hard fork.” They think that this course of action can damage a cryptocurrency, and it is harmful to the market in general. Despite what they say, we believe that this view is narrow-minded. Here’s why:
The Definition of a Cryptocurrency Fork
Simply put, a hard fork is when there is a split in the cryptocurrency. Instead of having one, there are now two cryptocurrencies, the original currency and the new currency that was split. Although the two share the same history in terms of transactions, these are now two unique coins headed in different directions. In reality, this is how communities with different views address their arguments in terms of technology and philosophy. A soft fork, on the other hand, just changes the protocol but still follows the old rules, making it backwards compatible.
The Good and the Bad
So why fork? Forking a cryptocurrency can help a community deal with their concerns. These concerns include the health of the cryptocurrency and reducing or eliminating any factors that could be slowing down the infrastructure. Forking also adapts the protocol to the group’s main interests. Some call this an upgrade to the protocol. In truth, forking is done to avoid any violence caused by disagreements. It allows group members to go in a different direction in a peaceful manner. Although it’s primarily a technological phenomenon, it is just as much a philosophical one.
The Reasons behind Forking
Here is a real-world example of a cryptocurrency fork. On the first of August, 2017, bitcoin was split, creating bitcoin and bitcoin cash. This contentious hard fork was caused by bickering within the bitcoin community. They argued that an upgrade was necessary to scale the coin to meet new demand. However, these people had different ideas on how to do that. To an outsider, these people may only be arguing about the technological aspects of cryptocurrency. However, on a philosophical level, they are arguing about its true essence and purpose.
The members of the Bitcoin Cash group believed that cryptocurrency should be a currency, or cash, to be used by the entire world. This idea was also supported by Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin. However, some think of cryptocurrency like “gold,” turning it into a commodity. These clashing views fueled the way people see economics and the purpose of technology in it. If you see this coin as the “cash for the world,” then it is a technology continuously changing in its paradigms. If you see it as just “gold,” then like gold miners, it’s just another way to make money.
Forking and its Psychology
The psychological aspect of the use of fork is elementary. If the groups disagree and cannot compromise, they split or fork to avoid any violence. This creates a peaceful, harmonious system where anyone can freely choose which blockchain to follow. Forking is a form of venting. People can bicker and argue about something, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are violent people. Thus, it is a way to avoid any actual violence within the community.
Through forking, anyone with specific sets of beliefs can group up and can be quickly addressed, which helps reduce the possibility of corruption. Unlike the government where those in power stay there for many years. A corrupted government official then can misdirect their incentives and increase corruption within the system. This is why forking, or splitting, is a desirable method of addressing different points of view.
Forking and the Government
If everyone in the cryptocurrency community realizes just how useful forking is in a psychological sense, it won’t be a surprise that everyone will fork if needed. However, when these arguments are brought to the government in forms of lawsuits, the peace is broken and violence will take its place.
To humankind, forking is an astounding change, not only in technology but as part of human society. When coming to a decision, forking can be a way for opposing ideas to divide without the need for violence. Once everything has settled, the now opposed ideas become different groups that are stronger and more cohesive.
The next time you run into someone with a different idea and cannot accept each other’s point of view, consider forking. Done right, it can help you experience peace and harmony.