As anyone who’s ever raised—or been—a teenager knows, happy outcomes are rare when groups of people egg each other on in a risky activity.
Just look at financial markets now. An activity that people have historically pursued in isolation—buying and selling stocks and other assets—has become the hottest way to socialize.
Friends get together on Zoom to “live-trade” stocks just as they watch movies or TV together on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Trading websites’ leaderboards show the names and gains of the people making the most money. Brokerage apps display lists of the stocks their users are flocking to the most. At some online brokers, you can even “autocopy” other users, mechanically duplicating their trades.
All this has gotten millions of novices over the fear of managing their own money and shown that investing doesn’t have to be deadly dull. It has given people something to talk about other than politics and the pandemic.
Unfortunately, when investing turns into socializing, it also turns dangerous.