Bitcoin Hit $19,800 a Year Ago Today

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December 17, 2017 is, to those who were involved in cryptocurrency at the time, either a cherished memory or a time that they would rather forget. Bitcoin began the day at $19,500 and would hit $23,000 on some exchanges before the day was out. The media had spent the best part of two weeks whipping up hysteria and increasing the hype, which had led to hundreds of thousands of people wanting to get a piece of the pie. Exchanges couldn’t cope with the demand and had to close their doors to new customers. All the talk was of being suddenly rich, of going to the moon, of HODLing in the expectation of further wealth.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Fast forward twelve months and cryptocurrency is like California after the gold rush – a small percentage who got in and out early made off like bandits, leaving the vast majority poor and disillusioned, with some financially destitute. The streets of crypto land are littered with unprofitable ASIC miners, abandoned crypto wallets, and tattered lambo brochures. The euphoria of this time last year is so absent from the current market it’s hard to remember a time when anything other than boredom, depression, and downright anger were the dominant emotions. Some tales from the Reddit cryptocurrency discussion board of December 17, 2017 illustrate all too well however how the emotion of the time swept regular investors along and how it led them, in hindsight, to some rash decisions:

I own a Ford dealership and sold my first car via Bitcoin last week. Hopefully many more to come. My office manager won’t be happy when I tell her that I’m letting 2.5 BTC ride. A little cash flow hit for big potential gains!
I’m starting carefully, but I just invested a small $150 into Bitcoin about an hour ago. It’s my first time. Wish I had started years ago, of course. I’m glad to be part of it now though. Pretty exciting!
I got 200 usd in a few days ago around 16.4. pretty exciting to follow this crowd and see money grow. I won’t see my BTC for a few days but my locked in rate is a good bit lower. I plan to have reoccurring buys here and there but I’m tempted to pull out the credit card but know I probably shouldn’t.
hodl, and dreams will come true
I see 22k by tomorrow

There were however some more circumspect voices who, through instinct or experience, preached caution on the day it was most needed and most absent:

guys and gals, rule #1 to investing: Do not invest with your emotions.
I still think this can get nasty and that most new users are not used to the panic and violent moves bitcoin can deliver so we will see what happens if we start a decent correction.
just transferred 1btc from my trezor to my gemini— time to cash out some gains. i’ve been sitting here anxious for the last few weeks because of how much a percentage of my assets bitcoin has taken up. will be glad to have something to show for it finally. i bought in ’13.

Lessons to be Learned

If December 17, 2017 taught us anything, it’s that when euphoria is the prevailing sentiment, when the prospectors are running into the hills with their shovels, and when people are taking out second mortgages to buy Bitcoin, it’s probably time to sell. Very few could have predicted the savagery of the past twelves months, but it’s clear that riches can turn into memories in the blink of an eye. And, memories don’t buy lambos.