There must be a limit to how much data is transferred across the bitcoin network in order to keep the ability to run and use your own node accessible. A node is required to interact with the global bitcoin network - if you do not use your own node then you must trust someone else's node. If nodes become inaccessible to run then the network will centralize around the remaining entities that operate them - threatening the censorship resistance at the core of bitcoin's value prop. The bitcoin protocol uses three main mechanisms to keep node operation costs low - a fixed limit on the amount of data in each block, an automatic difficulty adjustment that regulates how many blocks are produced based on current mining hash rate, and a robust dynamic transaction fee market.
Bitcoin transaction fees limit network abuse by making usage expensive. There is a cost to every transaction, set by a dynamic free market based on demand for scarce block space. It is an incredibly robust way to prevent spam without relying on centralized entities that can be corrupted or pressured.
After the 2017 bitcoin fee spike we had six years of relative quiet to build tools that would be robust in a sustained high fee market. Fortunately our tools are significantly better now but many still need improvement. Most of the pain points we see today will be mitigated.
The reality is we were never going to be fully prepared - pressure is needed to show the pain points and provide strong incentives to mitigate them.
It will be incredibly interesting to watch how projects adapt under pressure. Optimistic we see great innovation here.
If you are willing to wait for your transaction to confirm you can pay significantly lower fees. Learn best practices for reducing your fee burden here.
My guide for running and using your own bitcoin node can be found here.
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