The simple explanation of the Gamestonks debacle is a user behaviour that sits at the heart of the internet’s psyche – The Raid.
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All Your Shorts Are Bestonk to Us
I didn’t want to talk about the GameStop debacle but I just can’t help myself.
Firstly, I’m not going to explain what shorts are. To do so would be an insult to your intelligence.
But I would suggest that if you call yourself leftist or a marxist and short selling was explained to you via a screenshot from Reddit this week – perhaps you are not as economically literate as you like to believe.
Personally, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the MAGA capital riots and Reddit taking on hedge funds are similar in terms of cultural importance and impact. Participants of both events share the common idea that institutions are no longer legitimate, competent, or representative.
The media was just as shocked by the storming of the capitol as it has been by the collective action of memebros from Reddit.
But we should take a step back. It’s 2021 not 2008.
The video games industry is now bigger than both the movie and music industries combined. All the world’s cryptocurrency is worth more than a $1 trillion dollars. Gaming and to a lesser extent finance have replaced music as an area of emergent and radical social coordination
There is no difference between throwing 100 bucks into Robinhood and playing the stock market as dumping the same amount of money into Candy Crush or Fortnite.
For anyone under the age of 35 markets pervade our psychic landscape. We have been exposed to markets, their manipulation and wild price speculation our entire lives.
Perhaps you first experienced the item markets in Runescape, or the wild west of Neopets auctions. Maybe you were embroiled in the gold farming economic wars of Ultima online. Or experienced hyperinflation in Diablo 3 which made the game unplayable.
Everyone knows that to get caught buying gray market gold in World of Warcraft risked getting banned. One of the reasons I’ve been talking about the metaverse and crypto currencies for the last few months is because online worlds aren’t hermetically sealed.
The simple explanation of Gamestonks is a user behaviour that sits at the heart of the internet’s psyche – The Raid.
The reaction by Wall Street traders has been to cry about strangers in their playground. These new people are acting in ways their high frequency bots have no way interpreting. They are economic actors motivated by spite and lulz. Rather than the greed they are familiar with.
Fuck the hedge funds. Reddit is raiding Wall Street’s server and playing the game.
The connection between the events of this week and Occupy Wall Street are clear in posts by participants. But what else fell out of the 2008 financial crisis?
12 years ago the headline “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks” was encoded into its genesis block. Like it or not, the blockchain is on the same side as you.
If you are 23 years old today you were 10 during the financial crisis. Millennials may be the post internet generation but Zoomers are post money.
Virtual coins and tokens have *always* been a reality for the 20 year olds participating on Wall Street Bets. Weird internet money brought into existence with meme magic and computation. The parareality of the stock market and tokens in virtual worlds are the same. And so are the mechanisms for interacting with them.
The real emergent force here is the coordination of people toward a set of fixed obtainable goals, within a system.
Ryan Broderick wrote in his excellent garbage day newsletter last week:
There’s something almost reassuring about the pretense-less acceptance that corporate social media platforms and the stock market run on the same basic machinery and if you can create enough hype around something, through memes, conspiracy theories, and harassment campaigns, you can manifest it into reality via capital.
Which reminds me of the most accurate description of Bitcoin I’ve ever encountered from Neeraj Agrawal
The memeing of stock to stonks is the inverse. It delegitimizes the official narrative of Wall Street to one it can’t control. The phrase “4chan discovered the bloomberg terminal” exactly describes what’s going on.
Things go up. Things go down. Meme hype, hyperstition and manipulation is exactly how all markets work everywhere. Virtual worlds and Crypto have desensitised two generations to volatility.
What’s new to Wall Street is the retail culture of HODL though insane volatility. This isn’t the last time that this is going to happen either.
A decade ago, ultra left propaganda machine Deterritorial Support Group signed off with the following.
“Class struggle is a dynamic force, and the propaganda that travels with it must remain as dynamic and powerful as the class. …. The modern communist is a digital native and we embrace these territories as future playgrounds.”Deterritorial Support Group – AUTONOMY TONIGHT / UTOPIA TOMORROW: DSG IS OVER
Like it or not, the ongoing protest of crypto is important and needs egagement. The carbon argument against crypto is an easy narrative that keeps one safe – you don’t have to get your hands icky. It is a simplification of something deeply complex, that allows otherwise important allies to eschew involvement. Crypto is fucking with money. It’s now programmable. A medium in itself. Not just a medium of exchange. If you have been taking the spurious moral high ground, I hope this last week should make you reconsider.
Because your experience and insight can still shape the conversation and the technology. Otherwise you leave it to the bankers, and incumbent powers that be.
It’s funny that GameStops tagline is ‘power to the players’ as the events of this week have shown that a lot of people hate the game.
The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.
Its just like paying for others to read it!