Meme Stocks: The Impact on Young Investors

June 7th, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

Meme stocks, often characterized by their rapid and unpredictable price movements, have both captivated and alarmed the financial world. Fueled by social media platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, and TikTok, these stocks have gained popularity and ignited widespread interest and debate.

The recent upturn of meme stocks, particularly GameStop, has sparked a frenzy among investors. Three weeks ago, finance influencer Keith Gill, also referred to by his online handle, @TheRoaringKitty, resurfaced on X after a 3-year hiatus. Gill posted a mysterious image of a sketched man leaning forward on a chair, seemingly playing a video game. The post foreshadowed his subsequent return to YouTube. On Thursday, Gill announced that he will be hosting his first live webcast in three years on Friday, June 8th, 11:00 CST. GameStop stock has continued to surge since this announcement, despite a 29% decline in sales and a $32 million loss for the first quarter. In this blog post, we will explore the rise of meme stocks and “Roaring Kitty,” their impact on young investors, and the lessons that can be learned from this phenomenon.

The Rise of Meme Stocks

Meme stocks refer to shares of companies that become popular primarily through social media influence rather than traditional financial fundamentals. Companies like GameStop, AMC, and BlackBerry have become synonymous with this trend. The movement typically starts in online communities such as Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets, where users collectively decide to buy large volumes of a particular stock, driving up its price. The rise of meme stocks can be attributed to several factors:

Social Media Influence

Platforms like Reddit, Twitter (X), and TikTok have democratized information sharing, enabling retail investors to coordinate and share investment strategies rapidly. The viral nature of these platforms allows investment ideas to spread quickly, reaching a large audience in a short amount of time. Keith Gill, or @TheRoaringKitty, is a prime example of social media’s significant role in rallying investors to buy and hold stocks, often providing in-depth analysis and charismatic commentary that draws attention from the online community. This collective action can lead to dramatic price increases, creating a feedback loop where the rising stock price attracts more attention and more investors.

Zero Commission Trading

The emergence of zero-commission trading platforms such as Robinhood has lowered the barriers to entry for young investors, making it easier for them to participate in the stock market. Easy access to exchange trading floors may increase impulsivity and perpetuate the meme stock frenzy among more naive investors. Furthermore, these platforms have made stock trading more appealing by eliminating fees that traditionally deterred smaller investors. Features like user-friendly interfaces, mobile accessibility, and fractional shares have further democratized trading, enabling individuals to invest with small amounts of money. This ease of access has contributed to the rapid growth and popularity of meme stocks among retail investors.

Pandemic-Induced Market Dynamics

The COVID-19 pandemic created a unique environment where many young people, with more free time and stimulus checks, turned to the stock market as a new form of entertainment and potential income. Lockdowns and social distancing measures limited traditional forms of recreation and social interaction, leading many to explore stock trading as a new hobby. The influx of government stimulus money provided the necessary capital for these new investors to enter the market. Additionally, the volatility and uncertainty of the market during the pandemic created opportunities for high-risk, high-reward investments, which were particularly attractive to the meme stock crowd.

The Emergence of Roaring Kitty and GameStop Stock

On July 27th, 2020, "Roaring Kitty" began creating YouTube videos and posting on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets about GameStop. Gill highlighted the value he perceived in the heavily shorted stock, which he had started investing in during the early stages of the pandemic. He argued that the company had the potential for a significant turnaround. Gill's analysis underscored a key vulnerability: hedge funds had heavily shorted GameStop stock, creating an opportunity for a "short squeeze." A short squeeze occurs when a heavily shorted stock's price rises rapidly, forcing short sellers to buy shares to cover their positions, further driving up the price. Gill's advocacy for GameStop stock persuaded a wave of retail investors to buy and hold the stock, leading to its meteoric rise and turning the stock into a symbol of retail investors taking on Wall Street.
Gill's posts, characterized by detailed financial insights and a charismatic persona, resonated with many young, tech-savvy investors. This created a unique environment where many young people, with more free time and stimulus checks, turned to the stock market as a new form of entertainment and potential income.

Positive Impacts on Young Investors

Increased Market Participation

Meme stocks have drawn a new generation of investors into the stock market, significantly boosting overall participation. This surge has democratized investing, breaking down barriers that traditionally kept younger individuals from engaging with financial markets. The influx of young investors has diversified the demographic profile of market participants, providing them with a sense of ownership and engagement in the financial world. This increased participation not only benefits individual investors by potentially growing their wealth but also contributes to a more dynamic and representative market.

Enhanced Financial Literacy

The meme stock craze has driven a heightened interest in financial education among young investors. As they dive into the world of stocks, many are compelled to learn about market mechanics, investment strategies, and the importance of thorough research and analysis. Online communities, despite sometimes being fueled by hype, often engage in substantive discussions about financial concepts. These platforms can serve as informal learning environments where young investors educate each other and share valuable insights. This increase in financial literacy can have long-term benefits, equipping young investors with the knowledge to make more informed and prudent investment decisions.

Community and Collaboration

The social aspect of meme stocks has fostered a strong sense of community among young investors. Online forums and social media platforms have become spaces where investors share information, support each other, and collectively influence stock prices. This sense of camaraderie can be empowering, especially for novice investors who might feel isolated or intimidated by traditional financial institutions. The collaborative spirit of these communities helps build a support network, making the stock market feel more accessible and less daunting for newcomers.

Challenging Wall Street Norms

The meme stock movement has significantly challenged traditional Wall Street norms and highlighted the growing influence of retail investors. This shift in power dynamics has sparked important debates about market fairness, transparency, and the role of retail investors in the financial ecosystem. By organizing and acting collectively, these young investors have demonstrated that they can impact stock prices and challenge institutional investors' dominance. This democratization of influence is prompting a re-evaluation of market practices and regulations, potentially leading to a more equitable financial landscape.

Negative Impacts on Young Investors

High Volatility and Risk

Meme stocks are notoriously volatile. Prices can skyrocket based on hype and then plummet just as quickly when the momentum fades. This volatility exposes young investors to significant financial risk, as many may not be prepared for the potential losses. The unpredictable nature of meme stocks can lead to substantial financial setbacks, potentially wiping out investments that were intended to grow over time. The thrill of rapid gains can be quickly overshadowed by the reality of steep losses, emphasizing the importance of understanding the inherent risks.

Speculation Over Company Fundamentals

Investing in meme stocks often relies more on speculation and social media trends than on traditional financial analysis. This risk can lead to distorted perceptions of market value and encourage a gambling mentality rather than a strategic investment approach. Young investors might prioritize following the crowd over conducting thorough research, making investment decisions based on hype rather than sound financial principles. This speculative behavior can result in poor investment choices and financial instability.

Potential for Market Manipulation

The coordinated action seen in meme stock rallies can sometimes border on market manipulation. Artificially inflating stock prices through collective buying and selling can attract regulatory scrutiny and lead to potential legal issues for participants. Regulatory bodies may view these coordinated efforts as attempts to manipulate the market, which can result in investigations, fines, and other legal consequences. Young investors involved in such activities may inadvertently expose themselves to legal risks, underscoring the importance of understanding and adhering to market regulations.

Emotional and Psychological Impact

The rollercoaster nature of meme stocks can be emotionally taxing. The highs of significant gains are often followed by the lows of sharp declines. This volatility can create stress and anxiety, particularly for young investors who may be investing with limited funds. The emotional strain of dealing with rapid financial fluctuations can lead to impulsive decisions, such as panic selling during a downturn, which can exacerbate losses. Managing the psychological impact of investing in highly volatile stocks is a crucial challenge that many young investors may not be fully prepared to handle.

Distraction from Long-Term Goals

The focus on short-term gains from meme stocks can distract young investors from their long-term financial goals. Instead of building a diversified and balanced portfolio, they may become fixated on quick profits, which can jeopardize their overall financial health. This short-term mindset can lead to neglecting important investment principles, such as diversification, risk management, and consistent long-term growth strategies. As a result, young investors might miss out on opportunities to build a stable and resilient financial future.

Lessons for Young Investors

The meme stock phenomenon offers valuable lessons for young investors. Here are some key takeaways:
  1. Diversification is Key: Diversification is a fundamental principle of investing. Young investors should avoid putting all their money into meme stocks and instead build a diversified portfolio to manage risk effectively.
  2. Education and Research: It's crucial to take the time to learn about the companies you invest in and understand basic financial principles. This includes analyzing financial statements, understanding market trends, and being aware of the broader economic environment.
  3. Be Prepared for Volatility: Meme stocks are highly unpredictable. Young investors should only invest money they can afford to lose and be prepared for the emotional ups and downs that come with high volatility.
  4. Focus on Long-Term Goals: While it can be tempting to chase quick profits, focusing on long-term financial goals is essential. Building a stable and diversified investment portfolio is more likely to yield sustainable growth over time.
  5. Critical Thinking and Skepticism: It's important to approach investment opportunities with a critical eye and not get swept up in the hype. Young investors should question the motives behind online investment advice and consider the credibility of the sources.


Meme stocks have undoubtedly transformed the investing landscape for younger generations, bringing both opportunities and challenges. They have democratized access to the stock market and fostered a new group of engaged, financially curious individuals. However, the high risks associated with these stocks underscore the importance of financial literacy and cautious investing. As the trend evolves, it will be crucial for young investors to navigate the hype responsibly and build a foundation for sustainable financial growth. By balancing the excitement of meme stocks with prudent investment strategies, young investors can make the most of this unique moment in financial history.


  1. "How GameStop found itself at the center of a groundbreaking battle between Wall Street and small investors" - Washington Post: Read the article on Washington Post

  2. "Meet the 'Roaring Kitty' investor who started the GameStop stock surge" - CNN Business: Read the article on CNN Business

  3. "The GameStop stock frenzy explained" - CNBC: Read the article on CNBC

  4. "Robinhood, Reddit and the return of the 'amateur' investor" - Financial Times: Read the article on Financial Times

  5. "GameStop and the Rise of the Retail Investor" - Harvard Business Review: Read the article on Harvard Business Review


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