Got Bitcoin ink? Many Bitcoin believers do. But what are the risks? What about privacy? And what happens if — one fateful day — Bitcoin crashes and burns to zero?
Cointelegraph spoke with Bitcoin (BTC) advocates to understand why they have permanently etched a Bitcoin logo, motif, equation or slogan onto their skin. They’ve shown permanent solidarity with the decentralized movement, expressing their support for the Bitcoin protocol and the values it represents.
Didi Taihuttu, father of the “Bitcoin family,” explained that he inked himself the moment he went “all in on Bitcoin as I thought it was a very important step in my life.” A familiar face among the crypto community, Taihuttu sold all of his family’s possessions and slept in a campsite while the price of Bitcoin was in the four-figure territory with the “B” etched on his arm.
He now travels the world evangelizing Bitcoin, with his forearm on full view:
“Bitcoin changed my way of thinking about the world and decentralizing it.”
Anita Posch, another globetrotting Bitcoin evangelist, has a lightning bolt tattooed on her forearm. In the Human B Bitcoin documentary film, she said she wouldn’t explain that the lightning bolt symbol (a nod to the Lightning Network) on her wrist is Bitcoin-related but added “Bitcoin is my life” in follow-up comments.
TatumTurnUP (not his real name), the host of the Bitcoin show “Between Two Asics,” explained that he got his tattoo of the BTC supply formula because “It’s what proves scarcity.”
“Monetary scarcity is something we’ve been deprived of until Bitcoin, and the fact I can write down what proves there will only ever be a certain amount of Bitcoin is a pretty big deal.”
The tattoo on his bicep is a common (but unfortunately not strictly accurate) formula for the supply of Bitcoin. He shared a warning with readers: “The bottom of the Sigma might be the most painful thing I ever experienced. Just a forewarning.”
But what about OpSec?
However, isn’t it risky to advertise one’s love of a digital currency on one’s skin? OpSec, or operational security, is a military term the internet has hijacked. Among the crypto community, it refers to the public sharing of identity or defining features. And a Bitcoin tattoo could put a literal target on one’s back.
— Erik Dale ⚡ (@EuroDale) January 14, 2023
Erik Dale, whose tattoos are pictured in the above tweet, founded Norway’s “Northern Lightning” conference series. Dale told Cointelegraph he was aware of the implications. His tattoos are “Equations, no logos or tribal markers, for OpSec reasons.”
“Insiders should realize what they are, but not casual observers.”
Rikki, of content creators and investigators Bitcoin Explorers, joked, “We are not particularly concerned about bad opsec.” He added another Bitcoin tattoo to his collection during a giveaway in Guatemala.
Bad OpSec can lead to doxing or the public reveal of people’s personal data. That’s why some Bitcoin advocates mask their online identities, using anonymous profiles on social media. Not so for Rikki and his partner Laura; they have their Bitcoin support on full view.
Piero Coen, the co-founder of Guatemala-based Osmo Wallet, told Cointelegraph that Bitcoin is a “counterculture movement, and getting a tattoo related to it is a way to show our commitment to this movement.”
“It’s like a badge of honor, showing that we are part of this group of ‘pirates’ who are challenging the traditional financial system and are convinced we’re going to change the world. “
Besides, for Rikki and Laura, much of their lives already permanently exists on camera. Rikki explained:
“We are Bitcoin content creators, and so we chose to give up our privacy years ago. Besides, there aren’t just the slightly paranoid, scheming, pessimistic, terra plat-prone Bitcoiners — there are also us, the good-looking, nice, fun, cool and sex-loving Bitcoiners!”
Me: Should I be more low profile?
Still me: FREE BITCOIN TATTOO!!!!!!!! LET’S MAKE TWO AND MAKE A VLOG ABOUT IT!!!!! pic.twitter.com/HdwnAwRx4Z
— Laura Bitcoin explorers (@Lorinaura) January 30, 2023
Laura put it even more succinctly in a recent tweet:
For Tatum, another content creator and a recognizable face in the Bitcoin space, “Value is teaching people about Bitcoin and networking through it, so there’s a constant battle with opsec.”
“At the bottom of it, I am comfortable with my own security and what I do and do not share, but ‘WHY I love Bitcoin’ is always going to be shared.”
Tatum walks around Bitcoin conferences wearing a bulletproof vest in a jocular nod to operational security in the Bitcoin space.
But what if Bitcoin goes to zero?
Unlike tweets, open letters or company creation, Bitcoin tattoos are tricky to delete. They require commitment.
So what happens if the currency goes to zero, like many other failed projects from Terra to Celsius? Tatum explained, well, “sucks for me!”
“After I got it, I jokingly said, ‘Now I really hope it doesn’t go to zero or I’ll look like an idiot.’ But in reality, my tattoo is kind of why it never will go to zero. If one person finds value in Bitcoin, there’s only ever going to be so many. So they will have value.”
Billionaire Mike Novogratz’s tattoo of the failed Terra (LUNA) token is an eternal reminder of the headiness and hedonism accompanying crypto bull runs. The tattoo remains on Novogratz’s arm, while LUNA is worth next to nothing, and its creator, Do Kwon, might be facing jail time. Fortunately, Novogratz says he learned from the experience saying investing “requires humility.“
Dale explained he’s prepared to live with the tattoos on his wrists even if Bitcoin does fail. He’s committed until the very end: “If I’m wrong about this, I want to carry that reminder every day. And if not, I can’t imagine a prouder badge to wear for the rest of my days.”
For Taihuttu, it’s important to zoom out and focus on the bigger picture. Bitcoin is a long-term play:
“I believe that people who have tattoos from dollar signs or other fiat have a bigger chance of going to 0.”
He’s right; famous rappers and celebrities, including singer Kesha and actor Lena Dunham, have been inked with dollar sign tattoos. It’s unlikely that they were asked if the dollar would go to zero prior to sitting in the tattoo artist’s chair.
On a sober note, Taihuttu explained that regardless of the Bitcoin movement underway, the large tattoo on his forearm represents “an amazing 10 years of my and my family’s life since 2013, the year that I started mining Bitcoin.” And that’s more than enough reason to get Bitcoin ink.