Reddit is no longer just an internet forum for hipsters of the information age to band together in discussion of politics, pop culture, and funny memes. It has turned into a place of action, as evidenced by the massive stock market upticks GameStop experienced recently. Will these cyber vigilantes turn their community towards the green energy initiative next?
Can they make an impact?
If this sounds like nonsense and you’ve missed the informal occupation of Wall Street by Reddit, here’s the scoop:
Several stock traders (mostly small-time) on the subreddit r/wallstreetbets have organized to buy stock in select companies — leading to the creation of what the internet is now affectionately calling meme stocks. These Redditors gained national attention for their rehearsed inflation of video game retailer GameStop’s stock value. The retailer saw increases as high as 1600% before falling back down to the meager level they’ve been frequenting for the last several years.
This may have just been a goof for the Reddit community, but there is potential for more impactful troop mobilization of r/wallstreetbets. Could their influence be used for good and, more specifically, to increase clean energy related stocks?
It sounds plausible in theory, and there are already some clean energy stocks gaining traction within the subreddit; the environmental consciousness of many Redditors seems to flow green. However, the reality of the impact on the actual environmental cause is a bit more complicated.
Most renewable energy companies aren’t struggling with low stock values for one — this means the buy-in isn’t as low and the surge of buys would have to be greater to start to create waves. The clean energy boom has seen its own small (but steady) uptick in the stock market over the last few years. And even if Redditors were to unite under the banner of environmental activism on the stock market — Wall Street isn’t real life. Investments in climate initiatives and raising the stock value of clean energy companies is not the same as furthering clean energy initiatives for practical application.
In short, the traction that clean energy is beginning to see on r/wallstreetbets is great, but limited in real world effectiveness from a monetary standpoint. Higher stock prices mean fewer people can invest and with such a broad range of eco-friendly businesses to support it can be harder to focus in on specific targets.
Having said that, there is another way that Redditors can influence environmental activism: their actual online influence. Now that they’ve started receiving national attention, r/wallstreetbets is under careful watch by the public eye. This could be the sort of publicity to pick up steam and create a social movement in favor of clean energy.
While Reddit can’t single-handedly fight off climate change, a Green New Deal could be closer than we think.