Vitalik Buterin Celebrates Birthday: “My Childhood Is Over”

Today, on his 30th birthday, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin shared a moving post reflecting on the last couple of years of his life and the evolving crypto space that made him re-evaluate his role within the community.

The End Of An Era For Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin, who just three years ago was making all the headlines as the youngest billionaire at 27, reflected on his post about the role he used to have as a young developer in the crypto space. He recalled spending the last two years speaking with a new generation that has taken leading roles within the crypto space to organize and develop it further, the same way he did a decade ago.

This experience has made the Ethereum founder realize his progression into a more established position in the crypto community, as he explained:

But watching all of these people go further than I did, younger than I did, made me clearly realize that if that was ever my role, it is no longer. I am now in some different kind of role, and it is time for the next generation to take up the mantle that used to be mine.

In the post, Buterin explored his journey to reach and embrace this new role, citing that “A person’s identity is always tied to their role in the broader world that they are operating in, and over a decade, not only does a person change but so does the world around them.”

Buterin’s previous mathematic and economic-driven thinking changed after realizing that he spent the first five years of his crypto life looking for what “was impossible” and not modeling the variables that truly made a difference “between existing flawed systems succeeding or failing” in practice.

Though still present in his life, this once pivotal part of his identity doesn’t take as big of a role in his writing or thinking.

The Ethereum co-founder shares he’s never been a high-agency person, and throughout his life, most of his decisions have not been driven by “conviction.” Instead, “Most of my decisions in Ethereum involved responding to other people’s pressures and requests,” as he explained.

Buterin recalled several significant events in the world and the crypto space, such as the war in Ukraine and the FTX collapse, as the catalyst for the change of view on his role. Convulsions, as he calls them, like the fall of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, made him realize that most of the people he had looked up to and used as guidance in the crypto space back in 2014 were no more.

As he explained, it also made him understand that his passive participation within the community was a luxury he no longer had.

These two events, as different as they are in the type and the scale of their tragedy, both burned into my mind a similar lesson: that I actually have responsibilities in this world, and I need to be intentional about how I operate. Doing nothing, or living on autopilot and letting myself simply become part of the plans of others, is not an automatically safe, or even blameless, course of action. I was one of the mystical other people, and it was up to me to play the part. (…) And so I decided to become careful in which of others’ plans I go along with, and more high-agency in what plans I craft myself.

The Birth Of A New Crypto Space

Vitalik Buterin addressed his view on the changes the crypto space has undergone since its birth in 2008. In the last fifteen years, “the broader public discourse as a whole seems to have to a large extent moved beyond caring about money and banks,” he said, later wondering if the “original ‘story’ of crypto” is falling further behind the times.

Buterin addressed this concern by proposing two “sensible responses to this conundrum.” He believes the ecosystem would benefit from, first, “reminding people that money and finance still do matter,” and second, “extending beyond finance, and use our technology to build a more holistic version of an alternative, more free and open and democratic tech stack.”

Buterin emphasized crypto’s advantage over other industries as “one of the few tech industries that is genuinely highly decentralized, with developers spread out all over the globe.” This advantage offers the opportunity to help solve sustainably the ever-present problem that many people still face in accessing money and finance around the globe.

Rather than just focusing on money, or being an “internet of value”, I argued that the Ethereum community should expand its horizons.

According to Buterin, a more trustworthy, democratic, and decentralized tech stack would help evolve the crypto space to properly address the concerns and needs of the 21st century, allowing crypto to be part of a broader technology-driven story instead of “just a finance story.”

Vitalik Buterin concluded his birthday post by reflecting on the ever-changing nature of the world and the ‘rebirth’ of his role in the crypto space:

For me, 2023 has been a year of watching many things, large and small, fade into the distance of time. The world is rapidly changing, the frameworks I am forced to use to try to make sense of the world are changing, and the role I play in affecting the world is changing. There is death, a truly inevitable type of death that will continue to be with us even after the blight of human biological aging and mortality is purged from our civilization, but there is also birth and rebirth. And continuing to stay active and doing what we can to create the new is a task for each one of us.

As of this writing, Ethereum trades at $2,300.

ETH, ETHUSDT, Ethereum Vitalik Buterin

ETH is trading at $2,309.66 in the hourly chart. Source: ETHUSDT on TradingView.com

Featured image from Flickr.com, Chart from Tradingview.com

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