The humbling experience of implementing Lightning Network

How joining the lightning network became an emotional experience.

Today I’ve joined the Bitcoin Lightning Network mainnet with my dedicated raspberry pi fullnode and suddenly realised what is really happening.

The Lightning Network is an upgrade of the Bitcoin network that allows the network to scale globally. As currently more people want to use Bitcoin than the network can handle, a long needed upgrade of the throughput finally makes its entry: the Lightning Network. After years of development and testing the technology slowly started to show up on the main Bitcoin network as people installed and configured the software and began using it for (micro)payments worldwide.

A few weeks earlier I decided to try it out as well and installed the upgrade on my dedicated (very tiny) computer that sits in the corner of the living room in my house and silently hosts a copy of the Bitcoin data-structure. After some days of experimenting with different implementations and fiddling with the setup I succeeded to install and configure a working version of the software last night and found my ‘node’ connected and active on the Bitcoin Network.

With a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I tweeted about my tiny achievement this morning:

Seeing my tweet after I posted it, it suddenly struck me. For the past years I’ve felt upset and sometimes sad reading stories about people – or meeting them in person – that have no opportunities in life, mainly because they have no access to trustworthy financial services. People that, for example, live in cash-only societies, far away from the possibility to loan some money, start a business and work their way out of poverty. Or people, for example in Venezuela or the Ukraine, that had their financial system collapse over them, ruining lives of their entire family.

Staring at my tweet I saw that my node sat next to a node from a anonymous person “0339e5db6eba0797” and a node from someone that, judging by the nickname “NikTheGreek”, seemed to have Greek ancestry. I imagined this person lived in Greece and used the network because his euro’s were confiscated by the government on multiple occasions in the past years. I also fantasised that my anonymous neighbour was a fugitive, from a war-torn area that, in order to support his family, had to resort to using Bitcoin as bank accounts remained unavailable to him or her. At that moment it became very real to me that this new scaleable version of the Bitcoin network is a huge step towards a world where, for the first time in historyall over the world people are able to gain equal access to financial services, not only privileged westerners like myself.

Thinking about this it made me feel very humble; Proud of the hundreds of people – around the world – that made all this possible and extremely grateful to be able to do my part along the way.

In that moment I was one hundred percent certain it isn’t a coincidence that my third neighbour on the network named his or her node “HOPEFULPORTAL”, as this is what we’re all working on when we join the Bitcoin ecosystem: Hope.