BitClout and Mental Health
In a recent Clubhouse I did, one of the participants brought up the potential challenges the BitClout community faces surrounding mental health.
While I am by no means a mental health expert, I have spoken to one about this particular subject. I also believe that my experiences competing at the highest levels in poker, a profession that naturally becomes entangled with one’s identity, along with the mental and emotional weight of downswings, have given me some insight.
Drawing from Navigating Mental Health in Poker
My poker journey began in high school when I was just 16 years old. I knew right away I wanted to be a professional, and my dream was always to travel the world and play full time.
For me, poker was always about the game. It was about being the best I could be. Money was a tool that was required to play, but I always viewed it as what we used to keep score. I always said that if poker were played for candy, I’d want to be the fattest kid at the table.
This intrinsic motivation, coupled with the fact that I treated it like a game, allowed me to focus on the process of improving. Inevitably, the results came, and I’m proud that I’ve held my own against the best in the world.
This did not come without its fair set of challenges. Like in any industry, reaching the top means being part of a small circle of elite players, many of whom are better, richer, and more successful than me.
This was a struggle to deal with because although many looked up to me in the industry, I still had moments when I felt inadequate in comparison to my peers. This proved to be both painful and challenging so long as my identity was associated with my success in poker. Since my validation came from an external source, my success in poker, I never felt like I was good enough. There would always be someone smarter, richer or better, and therefore I was playing a game of identity that was rigged against me, one that I couldn’t win.
Fortunately, I was able to realize this was unsustainable and learned to find fulfillment from within. Of course, I’m still very much a work in progress. I learned that I was good enough just because I existed, independent of my success at the poker table.
The Greatest BitClout Challenge We Face
Not everyone is lucky to have the support I did and get through this phase, which was the concern of the gentlemen on Clubhouse—namely that many would tie their sense of self-worth to their BitClout coin price, and, if it went down, they would feel inadequate. Inevitably, this would lead some to ruin, perhaps even self-harm.
I believe this is the greatest challenge we face as a community with respect to BitClout. We must do everything we can to protect the mental health of its participants, in particular the youth, who are more vulnerable and do not have the experience or the maturity to recognize that the price of their coin is not a reflection of their value as a human being. Nevertheless, this is a challenge we all face regardless of age, experience, and wisdom.
I believe that life happens for us, not to us, and this framework has been integral to navigating its challenges with a positive outlook. I also believe a technology is neither good nor evil, but rather that it magnifies who we already are. BitClout is one such technology, and it can be a double-edged sword with respect to mental health.
In my experience, a person’s sense of self is largely binary—either they get validation and a sense of completeness from within (a sustainable and eternal source of energy), or they seek it from an external source (a never-ending, unsustainable game that leaves one feeling inadequate).
BitClout will undoubtedly exacerbate the problems for those in the latter camp. We’re already seeing people suffering mentally from social media when using the classic metrics of likes and follows, but this will only be compounded when we tie a monetary value to someone’s identity.
This does not make BitClout evil, but it does magnify an existing and pervasive problem in society that people’s self-worth is tied to an external metric.
I believe this needs to change. BitClout could actually accelerate this process, as this problem becomes more relevant and therefore imminent to solve. Unfortunately, it will likely only do so when there’s a cover story of a poor person who fell victim and took their own life.
This will likely be the catalyst for a global conversation about the subject, with fervent opinions on both sides. Many will blame BitClout, when in reality it was only the fuel added to a fire that was already raging. My hope is that what emerges from this potential future global debate is the first-principle reasoning and addressing the root cause: one’s source of self-worth and validation.
Keeping Things in Perspective
Again, I’m no expert, nor do I pretend to be one on the internet, but what has worked for me is to keep things in perspective. Because poker was always a game to me, it was easier for me to navigate the challenges that surrounded the subject because I viewed my progress as a way of keeping score. Along my journey, I found the most peace when I was doing my best to improve and play the game at the highest level possible, while remembering to measure my progress exclusively against my own ability.
Compete against yourself. If you can manage to, you maintain the fun of optimizing for the ways we keep score (in poker, it’s money, and on BitClout, it’s followers and coin price), while keeping a fun, light-hearted approach. It’s much harder to tie one’s self-worth to a game, and this separation naturally helps to keep things in perspective. It’s not a panacea, but rather a process we must all work through and continue to be conscious of as we work to maintain our sense of worth while navigating the swings of the platform.
Perhaps it would be prudent for some to avoid following others on the platform who make them feel inadequate. This may not be the intention of the Clouter, but simply the way the consumer interprets the influencer.
What’s the Solution?
I’ll be the first to say that some should limit their exposure to BitClout. Others should avoid it all together. It’s up to us to monitor ourselves and be conscious of how we’re feeling.
While it may be helpful to treat this all as a game, sometimes the stakes get too high. Don’t be ashamed to seek help. Behind every success there’s almost always a strong support group.
I believe that, if necessary, one should seek help or support early to prevent the compounding damage that over-exposure to stress could provoke. It’s better to nip something in the bud than wait for it to blow up and try to fix it after it’s too late.
Finally, it seems to me that good parenting is a first principal solution to this.
While this may not be the quick fix that many are hoping for, it seems that a society which is aware of the challenges we face surrounding identity and self-worth and that educates the next generation for ways to cope with this (such as instilling in one’s child that they are loved and enough just because they exist) will give them the strength and resources to cope with the inevitable challenges that tomorrow’s social media may provoke.
By taking responsibility for the challenge we face, we’ll be more equipped to handle it.
I know many of you are much smarter than me and would love to hear your feedback on this subject. What can we do as a community to help the mental health of those who use BitClout? How can we ensure people avoid tying their sense of self to their coin price? What support systems can we create for those who are in need?
If you want to share insights and help make BitClout a safe place for the next generation to connect, contact me on BitClout @alectorelli. I’m eager for this to ignite a conversation that leads to positive change.
I’m grateful to be here with you and to have the opportunity to serve the BitClout community, and I hope that together we can make it a safe place for all.