Time for a thought experiment.
The following is merely an exercise in flexibility of perspective, and is to form a foundational piece of another upcoming thought experiment...
Certainly, when posed with the question, "do you own crypto," most people here would answer "yes..."
But what if that answer comes from a perceptual flaw? What if none of us actually own crypto?
Hear me out...
Let's say you're flying overseas. You have your Ledger hardware wallet with $55,555 worth of tokens with you.
Now, when you arrive in the foreign country and fill out the customs form asking if you are carrying any currency worth more than $10,000 USD, what do you put?
And that answer is correct.
Yet, we're faced here with a linguistic paradox, considering many people talk about "putting crypto on their Ledger." Why?
There is no crypto on the wallet.
Any hardware wallet is merely a device which stores private keys.
The tokens themselves remain part of the blockchains' code, duplicated on thousands of nodes worldwide.
So... shift of perception.
Do you really own the crypto, or are merely acting as a sort of steward or trustee of a certain amount to which you have access to the keys controlling it?
We've grown so accustomed to viewing the world through a certain lens, that rarely we question our assumptions about our relationships with such things.
Certainly, if we work a job to earn money and then go buy something physical, we could fairly say we own it. (Although even there, we may hit points where the logic can be questioned, such as exploring the legalities of "property ownership" and whether property agreements are actually in our names as natural persons or the strawmen of corporate identities of the same names, capitalized & numbered, accounted in the system of maritime law.)
Though if we exchange our money for some cryptocurrency, what is it that is actually in our possession other than access to the commonwealth distributed amongst participants of the network proportional to their investment of time, energy, and capital into it? (The value of which is a product of collective agreements arrived at via the constant fluctuation of those investment inputs?)
One other interesting viewpoint to contemplate from...
Some have revered crypto for its property of being unconfiscatable. As in, the government could not take it away...
So viewed from a different angle: if it cannot be taken away, can it actually even be owned in the first place? Or is "ownership" something which is inherently transferrable, whether by consent or force?
I know, this may all seem like a bit of a mindfuck.
And sure, at one level, we certainly do own crypto - in the old, 3D world paradigm.
Though, perhaps coming the culmination point of this particular thought experiment... crypto represents more than just digitally money.
It's an entirely new paradigm, with innovative multidimensionality.
And while we may be tempted to apply the language from the old 3D world we're used to in the new, it may not always be accurate or apply.
Entering such new territory may require new ways of looking at things, new ways of thinking, and new ways of relating.
Some of you may be thinking, "well what difference does it make anyways? Do these linguistic puzzles even really matter, so long as I get my Lambo?"
Maybe not. Maybe so.
To some, crypto may merely be a means to accumulate more within the framework of the old-world competitive model. To many others, it represents a quantum leap forward in the how we choose to innovate our economies from the outdated, manipulative, destructive ways towards greater inclusiveness, sustainability, cooperation, health, etc. And in the spirit of making those strides into these new paradigms, would it not be of potential value to reframe the way interact with our investment vehicles - if only for the sole purpose of recalibrating our own mindset and energetic approach to them?
Irregardless of the semantics around "ownership" of crypto, I've personally found there to be a signficant shift in outlook over the last five years in the space as feeling that the wealth I've been growing in the domain is not merely to the ends of accumulating for myself, but is in fact more along the lines of something comparable to stewardship or a trusteeship. And while just a few years ago, I was dead set on the four million dollar condo on the hill and fancy cars, the gradual evolution into this alternative mindset of stewardship has been one that's brought a maturity beyond the 'service-to-self' outlook - in which the harvest of my investments would be "mine" - into a distinctly different one with a knowing that I'll highly likely end up giving away far more than ever spending on/for myself.
And while I may lack the proper words to explain, it feels as though that maturation and shift in approach is part of what has unlocked access to the increasing amounts of wealth.
That in integrating & walking the path whereon the crypto-gardening done is not merely for my own hoarding of wealth beyond my needs & grandest wants, the character developed in ascending above that 3D desire for "ownership" into the responsibility of wise management of that within my present fields of access for the ultimate service of others has in some quantumly-magical way unlocked increasing levels of wisdom, discernment, guidance/connection, knowledge, and all needed to expand the amount of resources within the various crypto networks I've earned access to.
Other factors to consider in these discussions, as to why the particulars of linguistic metacontext in regards to "ownership" of cryptocurrency might matter: taxes.
(Disclosure: this is not financial advice, and is only presented for entertainment purposes.)
Of course, selling your crypto for fiat will likely incur you a tax burden. (Unless you happen to live in a nation with favorable crypto-tax laws or have successfully managed a transition from a citizen to national / natural person, depending where you live).
Though, how would the outcome change if you manage yourself differently - as a steward of the resources within your realm of access, operating as a business and writing off all expenses possible, minimizing what you pay yourself out of the pool of funds merely to cover those expenses such that you counterbalance income vs. expenses, and allow the rest of crypto to continue growing until it's ready to be allocated towards community projects through either business vehicles or non-profit/charitable endeavors that can also be written off?
This itself is not a new strategy, of course. Though it's one many still fail to fully grasp and utilize. Partly, due to ignorance. And possibly, due to the mental framework / conceptual paradigms around the whole topic of "ownership" - and accompanying ego obstructing many from releasing the desires to "own," accumulate, and hoard what may be more constructively put to use upon transitioning into a paradigm of stewardship or trusteeship.
(Consider why many billionaires pay themselves a salary of $1/year and utilize philanthropic vehicles to disperse their funds towards honorable causes rather than unnecessarily divert it into taxes, which then end up going to fund wars, corporate subsidies, and all those types of things we'd prefer see come to an end. And also consider: while those billionaires' wealth may reside largely in stock, having been entered into under legal agreements - what implications might there be in the realm of crypto where "ownership" is merely a linguistic presumption rather than legal agreement entered into via contract in government-regulated territory?)
Of course, this entire thought experiment could just be a form of mental masterbation.
Yet, interesting, unforeseen things are possible when thinking outside of the box.
The ego and/or four year olds in all of us might like to claim things as "MINE." Yet given none of us can take our worldly things with us when we die, what's truly more valuable: a sense of "ownership" - which can often come with heavy burdens of both physical commitments restricting freedom of movement and complications with governmental regulations & legal obligations - or access to that we choose to experience, when we desire?
And would it really technically matter or not if we "own" crypto - as we've thought of "ownership" in the old, capitalistic, matrix system of materialistic imprisonment - so long as we retain access to the resources needed to meet our needs and keep unlocking new levels of this game of life?
(If you've enjoyed this thought experiment, stay tuned for a second installment coming soon...)