There are a lot of jokes and memes that get passed around the crypto community and the internet as a whole. In fact, it can sometimes be hard to keep up with the pace of meme culture. Nearly every day, a new viral meme drops and everyone is on to the next laugh.
But there are a few iconic memes that actually turn into cultural touchpoints. This is true in any modern online community, but it’s especially true in crypto.
“HODL” is one of those terms that grew from a meme into a full philosophy and cultural mindset.
What Does HODL Mean and Where Did HODLing Come From?
HODLing is the practice of holding a cryptocurrency — usually bitcoin — instead of selling, no matter what the crypto market does. Like with many terms and cultural trends in the crypto community, HODLing has a meme-centric origin story.
Back in December 2013 when Bitcoin was relatively young, the infant market was volatile. In fact, the volatility was even scarier for early Bitcoin investors because there was a shorter history of trends.
At that time, a Bitcointalk forum user named GameKyuubi posted something that has since become ensconced in the halls of Bitcoin fame. In a candid, self-deprecating and admittedly drunken rant, he confessed that he was a bad trader. Despite this, he announced to the internet that he was going to “HODL” his bitcoin, misspelling "hold" as "HODL" in the process.
GameKyuubi had learned the perils of trying to time the market and the folly of predicting short-term price movements. His post struck a chord with the crypto community.
The term “HODL” became a symbol for holding onto crypto investments no matter what. Some people today even use HODL as an acronym for “hold on for dear life.”
How HODL Culture Evolved
At first, HODLing was simply an inside joke among the few, dedicated Bitcoin investors. But since then, it has become a cultural pillar in the larger worldwide crypto community.
Like with many things in internet culture, a funny mistake became a meme, and that meme took on a life of its own. As crypto enthusiasts embraced the HODL mentality, it became a unifying force in the community.
On social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit, crypto investors shared their HODLing stories and strategies. And the term became a point of solidarity among true believers in crypto. Memes and hashtags like #HODL and #BUIDL became the rallying cry of the crypto world.
TradFi barely had time to blink before HODLing evolved into a legitimate investment strategy. Investors started to realize that in such volatile markets, attempting to time buys and sells was often a losing game.
HODLing offered a more conservative approach, focusing on the long-term potential of digital assets. HODLing not only became a profit maximization strategy, but a signal of belief in the future of crypto.
Many HODLers believe in dollar-cost averaging (DCA) into Bitcoin regularly and never selling. Today, you can HODL almost anything — including other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. But the strongest association and use of the term HODLing is still tied to buying BTC and never letting it go.
There are a growing number cultural references that have since popularized HODL culture. It is still largely known within internet culture, but it’s also starting to seep into popular media from movies to TV shows featuring characters who were ardent HODLers, further cementing the term's status in the broader culture.
The Institution of HODL Day
Another part of HODL culture is the establishment of HODL Day. This annual celebration is a tribute to the origins of HODLing and a testament to its enduring impact on the cryptocurrency community.
HODL Day was started by the original HODLer himself, GameKyuubi, and instituted on December 18th every year. This is the anniversary of GameKyuubi's iconic Bitcointalk post. His message, despite being candid and somewhat inebriated, struck a chord with the community and stuck.
HODL Day is a day for crypto enthusiasts worldwide to come together and celebrate the HODLing philosophy. It's a day to honor the resilience, determination, and long-term vision that HODLing represents.
On HODL Day, crypto communities gather to commemorate GameKyuubi's message and the enduring power of holding onto one's investments "for dear life." It serves as a reminder that, even in the depth of crypto winter, a belief in the potential of cryptocurrencies is what truly matters.
Some of the more traditional finance world who are entering the crypto community dislike how often ideas and innovations are driven by memes. But whether people like it or not, memes are a deep part of crypto culture.
But beyond their humor and ridiculousness, a few have meaningful philosophical implications. For those who embrace the importance of decentralization, financial autonomy, and the potential of Bitcoin to change the world, HODLing isn’t just a meme — it’s a way of life.