In its heyday, the way to learn how to “play” the stock market was to get a degree from an elite school and work on Wall Street. Now there’s a subreddit for that. Traders these days learn finance and economics by watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, and using message boards like Reddit. With a lower barrier to entry, anyone with curiosity, money, and an internet connection can partake in the Wall Street Russian Roulette.
“There’s so much free information on the internet about the stock market,” explained A.J. Johnson, a day trader in Orlando. “It’s like having the bible in your own language for the first time… and Reddit to figure out that’s it’s all bullshit.”
Now that the government has begun sending out the largest stimulus checks to date, Wall Street is worried. The internet has speculated that people will blow the money once the latest stimulus check hits, turning it into a meme. Experts predict most of it will go toward household expenses, paying down debt, and even travel, as more people are looking to get away. But a portion will undoubtedly go straight into the stocks, especially for those who have been learning and following market trends to decide how to best grow their windfall.
It’s not that people were too dumb to understand the stock market before, but when buying $50 worth of stock carried a $10 broker fee for most small investors, the numbers simply didn’t add up.
“Bruh, it was like playing chess with your pieces glued down,” mansplains Johnson. “I’m not losing because I don’t understand chess, I’m losing because I can’t move my pieces and my opponent can.”
Now that trades are cheap or free on apps like Robinhood, retail investors have the same ability to make trades like big firms. The safest bet might be to put your money in the bank or an IRA to enjoy slow steady growth, and that’s what they’d like you to do. But for those looking for the adrenaline rush of high stakes investments there’s r/wallstreetbets.
This now infamous subreddit, a place where traders and degenerates (and degenerate traders) share information, has been making headlines lately, as it led a retail investor revolt that caused billions in losses for the country’s largest hedge funds.
Long story short, the “hedgies” (as the the subreddit affectionately calls them) stood to make a fortune if companies like GameStop went bankrupt, and Reddit was going to have none of that. Not only did they “cock block” the large institutions, but made a fortune in the process.
Johnson credits the impact of r/wallstreetbets on a perfect storm of the Democratization of the stock market, people losing their jobs or working from home, and losing other forms of gambling overnight.
“Brah, why do you think professional sports were popping back up so quickly? Sports betting!”
With a hole in the market, adrenaline junkies and gambling addicts found solace and sometimes success in gambling on meme stocks, and they’re not giving it up.