‘We like the stock!’ The Anatomy of a Meme




Photo:

JESS KURONEN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Traders on Reddit’s raucous WallStreetBets forum have their own language. Unlike other internet communities, their jokes can be just for fun or signals of investing strategies.

Memes, in-group messages that are repeated and altered, are often offensive and evolve in significance over time. For these social media users, a rose isn’t a rose isn’t a rose.

Here’s the anatomy of a notorious meme on WallStreetBets.

The meme means what it says.

Like stockbrokers who have used the phrase for decades, the surface sentiment is liking a stock. On Reddit, this is often accompanied with a rocket emoji, which means the person using it thinks buying the stock will make it go up.

But on WallStreetBets, memes never stop at face value.

Note: Posts are as they appeared on the morning of Feb. 3.

It points to an unconventional investment.

An investor might use the meme to signal an investment is being made to ride the momentum, rather than for a fundamental reason. Or, it can signal that the reason to invest simply wouldn’t make sense outside the WallStreetBets world.

Note: Posts were collected the morning of Feb. 3.

It shows solidarity.

On WallStreetBets, the phrase is also used to show support for continuing to hold stocks for the videogame retailer

GameStop Corp.

or movie-theater company

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.

It is often paired with screenshots of YOLO buys the Reddit user is invested in. The solidarity reflects belief that the stock’s amateur-investor-induced momentum will continue.

Note: Posts are as they appeared on the morning of Feb. 3.

It is popular.

The phrase exploded in 2021 on Reddit with thousands of upvotes on WallStreetBets since the beginning of the year. Interest in the term broadly shot up as the GameStop rally became headline news. It was added to Urban Dictionary a week ago.

It is a rallying cry.

The “we” in “we like the stock” means the collective forum. Lately, it encourages Redditers to keep holding GameStop stock despite high prices and some brokerages restricting access to buying.

Posts containing the phrase has been upvoted tens of thousands of times.

Its origin is a remix.

The phrase has its origins on Wall Street. On Reddit, there were versions of the sentiment, including, “We like the money,” “We like the risk,” and “We like the stonks.” In 2018, it was mentioned on WSB in response to a post about Goldman’s guidance on

Micron Technology Inc.

Note: Posts are as they appeared on the morning of Feb. 3.

It is layered in other memes.

The phrase shows up in fan art and fan videos, building on other memes and current events in the amateur-investor GameStop run-up.

For example, a recent post depicts a battle between the forum and outside market players, superimposing entities such as hedge fund Melvin Capital Management, the celebrated WallStreetBets trader known as DeepF—ingValue and Tesla Inc. CEO

Elon Musk

over movie battle scenes.

It will amplify and change over time.

The phrase will continue to evolve, and perhaps take on new meanings and forms, as it continues to be posted online—as memes do.

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