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The Meme-ification of Finance

How a boring topic like Finance became internet-native

I don’t know when it happened.

Maybe it was this January, when GameStop and meme stonks were all anyone could talk about.

Maybe it was when the stonks meme came out (see above) in 2017.

Maybe it was when Satoshi Nakomoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2008 — seeping into the internet culture.

Whenever it was, somewhere down the line, finance became cool.

Or maybe not cool, but it became a meme. It became funny. It became a foundation of internet-native communities on Reddit, Twitter, and beyond.

And as a result, we now have finance-related meme accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram.

We created r/wallstreetbets with 10 million subscribers — with a top 5 active user base in all of Reddit.

We moved the markets, with the BAANG meme stonks (Blackberry, AMC, AMD, NAKD, and GameStop) skyrocketing in late January / early Feburary — prompting a Congressional hearing that invited a pseudonymous Redditor u/DeepFuckingValue on the same stage as Vlad Tenev (CEO of Robinhood) and Ken Griffin (CEO of Citadel).

Memes allowed retail traders like r/wsb community members to hype one another up — a sort of ralling cry against the hedge funds that have taken away from us in the GFC of 2008.

We made Dogecoin a top 5 cryptocurrency — even though it has no utility in any whatever outside of “meme energy”.

Source: Coingecko

We have Zoomer TikTokers posting content about altcoins like SafeMoon — pumping it over several hundred percent in the span of a few days.

Source: TikTok

It’s surreal reflecting back and seeing that something as old as stuffy as fihn-ants has turned into a internet-savvy movement of meme culture — one with real world implications that is minting millionnaires and evaporating the life savings of unsuspecting retail traders.

Rex Woodbury from Digital Native called memes “the atomic units of culture”, and it’s clear that this new wave of meme finance is a culture that is resonating with millions of folks.

Crypto is Internet-native money

This is purely speculation, but I think that crypto is a huge component of the meme-fication that we’re seeking of financial services.

Sure, maybe people are just bored and turning to trading stonks as a way to get their dopamine fix while they’re locked at home.

And sure, there are non-crypto meme communites that @financegod and r/wsb that don’t even talk about crypto.

But I think that crypto paved the way for the Internet to embrace finance as a topic worthy of meme-ing.

And I say that because crypto is the internet-native form of money.

Every other form of money or financial services is somehow still tied to the real world — banks, brokerages, the stock market.

Crypto is purely digital.

With that intrinsic quality of being internet-native, crypto is better suited to be embedded into the culture of the internet.

The Internet has always had the ability to aggregate previously fringe behavior into mainstream sub-cultures.

That’s why previously “nerdy” activities like anime, gaming, and comic book superheroes are now international movements.

Gaming is a digital-digit CAGR industry, with the potential to be $250B in market cap in 5 years. Marvel has released billion-dollar grossing movies in rapid succession, something only previously done by Avatar and the Titanic.

Source: Wikipedia

And it was easy to see how finance — especially internet-native finance — could be included into those fringe communities.

Gamers and creators need to get paid — look at the success of Twitch and Patreon and OnlyFans.

And so the amalgamation of finance and internet cultures formed the meme-heavy environment that is crypto.

Pseudonymity is also incredibly important in crypto.

After all, the founder of crypto doesn’t even have a real name, Satoshi Nakomoto is a pseudonym for the individual/team behind the Bitcoin whitepaper.

Crypto is a movement that is grounded on privacy — privacy of data by having user-owned data, and privacy from third-parties accessing individual financial information.

So crypto folk had to turn to other ways of presenting their identity, and they leaned on the “atomic units of culture” and used internet-native icons as their digital face to the world — mainly to Discord and to Twitter.

People wanted to be Pepe the Frog as a derivatives trader

The SushiSwap team wanted to be reimagined as anime characters

Source: sushi.com

Every crypto Discord has a #memes channel — for the culture of course.

#memes on the Uniswap Discord

The crypto community came up with words like HODL, bagholder, diamond hands, BTFD, and shill way before it was mainstream or even on r/wsb.

Memes became a form of identity — as well as communication and culture — for these crypto communities.

Closing Thoughts

This isn’t my most cogent blog post, but I just wanted to rant about this observation I had about finances these days — a slow move toward being more engrained in internet culture.

I’ll leave you with two quotes from two people much much smarter than me on this topic:

John Luttig of Founder’s Fund:

Today, social media is a magnifying glass for wealth… Social media acts as an emotional coordination layer, increasing the amplitude and frequency of culture. Jealousy, resentment, and fomo are more viral and powerful than ever, particularly when everyone is on their computer all day post-lockdown.

What Instagram did to body image, wallstreetbets and Twitter are doing to bank account image.

And a man who needs no introduction:

If you thought this blog post was worth the ~5 minutes of your time to read it, please help me by clapping below (up to 50 times) or sharing with a friend who would benefit from this content. Thanks so much!

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0xjim

0xjim

Product manager, DAO contributor, crypto enthusiast

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