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Welcome to 2021, where ?? and ?? and ? might actually dictate what you do with your money.
It seems far fetched, but emojis, slang and just plain jokes are the new language of investing. And this fresh way of talking about the stock market didn’t come from Wall Street; it came from everyday people, sitting in their home offices, college dorm rooms or even high schools.
Gone are the days where investors had to visit their brokers in person, or even pick up the phone. Now, they trade stocks, funds and cryptocurrency via apps in a matter of seconds.
And instead of congregating on the stock exchange floor, these investors gather in online spaces. The subreddit r/WallStreetBets — where retail traders teamed up on social media earlier this year to send GameStop’s stock price soaring — is the most famous. But many less rowdy places like Twitter and Discord have big fan bases.
Many of these online communities have developed their own distinctive subcultures — and lingos. And as trading stocks and cryptocurrencies has gained mainstream attention in the past few years, so has the new vocabulary.
That’s something unusual for the world of investing: Stock market slang has typically been top-down, coming from institutional investors and trading floors and filtered out through brokerages to individual investors. Think old-school terms like: “dead cat bounce” or “economic moat.” Now, thanks to the Internet, slang is bubbling up.
When online communities create their own language, it’s a way of signaling “we belong to this community,” says Jessa Lingel, associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
As social media platforms have become a go-to place for investors to share their successes and failures, post their stock tips and learn from one another, they now have that community to help navigate the wild world of investing.
There are tons of words and emojis these communities are using, and new ones are popping up everyday. Here’s a quick run-down of the need-to-know words and phrases:
Apes (?): This is a term for retail investors who are bullish on heavily-shorted stocks like GameStop and AMC. Everyday investors in r/WallStreetBets tend to call themselves “apes” (and also… “degenerates”).
Bag holder: A bag holder is an investor who is holding onto an asset that consistently does poorly, often with the belief that the price will turn around. It likely comes from the phrase “holding the bag,” i.e. the one who gets caught while …….