Knut Svanholm


The need for a villain

In the movies I get it. A good movie needs a good villain. My favorite movies all have good villains. In some of them the villain is the main character. Ever so often the protagonist slowly morphs into the antagonist during the course of the movie. A good villain is a great storytelling tool. In a classic good versus evil story structure the hero is motivated by the bad guys actions and this moves the story forward. In a good guy turns evil (or vice versa) -story the characters motivations are studied and shown through a good versus evil lens. On the whole a properly used villain is often what elevates the movie to another level. But what roles do villains fill in real life?

We humans tell ourselves stories. We see our lives as ongoing movies or novels. We look upon moving to a new house, getting a new job or having children as the beginning of a new chapter. We see ourselves as the main character in the movie of our life. There music we love becomes the soundtrack and our pets become comic relief side characters. This is not only an effect books and movies have on our psyches but rather an effect our minds have on the way we construct stories. We tell stories the way we do because we look upon our lives this way. What our lives often lack though is a good villain.

So what do we do in peacetime, on top of the food chain, in environments where we don’t have to fight for our own survival on a daily basis? We invent villains. Or have them invented for us. Politicians especially thrive on our need for a nemesis to our narrative. We construct opponents in sports, religion, social class and almost every other aspect of life that allows for more than one way to view the world. Social media amplifies differences between viewpoints and lets users shield themselves from opinions that doesn’t fall in line with what they believe to be true. Everyone is blaming everyone for putting out fake news it seems and the world seems a lot more polarized than it did just a decade ago. In a nutshell, the alt-right’s archetype protagonist is an antagonist to the social justice warriors on the left and vice versa.

Bitcoiners used to see central banks as the main villain and this was the villain the invention was supposed to interrupt. As adoption grew however, more and more schisms started to pop up from inside the crypto community. First they materialized as altcoins and more lately as forks from the mainnet. People accuse each other of being bought, conspiring and not being loyal to whatever vision they, or Satoshi, might have had for the network. What we all seem to forget, in our lives as well as in Bitcoin, is that we don’t really need a villain. Bitcoin does not need to disrupt governments to thrive or even to survive. No one is forcing anyone to do anything in this space. The whole point of the entire experiment all to often gets lost in the gold rush. Regardless of which network you choose to participate in you don’t have to discredit proponents of the other one. You don’t even have to dislike banks or governments. It’s all about cooperation. People seem to think that the only way to defend an opinion is to argument against its counter-opinion. This is not always the case. More than often it’s much more productive to argue for something than against it. We’re not politicians here and we don’t need to be. We’d all be better off if we’d just try to contribute somehow.

So in conclusion — stop worrying about villains, there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. Those are our enemies. Those and maybe Jamie Dimon, but that’s a different story…

More by Knut Svanholm

Topics of interest

More Related Stories