The Hopes That Rose and Fell With GameStop

In the parlance of Reddit, Mr. Chalfant’s diamond-hard hands won’t fold, unlike the “paper hands” of sellers. He’s still holding the shares he bought for $1,035 — about a month’s wages from his job at a pizza shop and his freelance photography business — when GameStop was trading at $290. On Friday, his investment was worth $220.

“I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve already lost the money,” he said. “Realistically, the stock is not going to go where it was before.”

But the losses are an investment, too, Mr. Chalfant said. They’ve earned him “internet points” on WallStreetBets. “If you’re saying, ‘I’m still holding,’ you have more clout than if you didn’t,” he said. (Many on the WallStreetBets forum insist that GameStop’s shares may surge again. On the other hand, another Reddit forum opened last week where users share tales of losses from trading the stock whose ticker symbol is GME: GMEbagholdersclub.)

Mr. Chalfant said he and other teenage traders enjoy the gamification of the investing, and many of his friends had gotten in on GameStop just because they thought it was funny, not to make money.

“We’re living in a system where there’s no such thing as justice anymore and the entire world is falling apart,” Mr. Chalfant said. “Nothing really matters, so we might as well try to have fun while we’re here.”

Terrell Jones didn’t need to invest in GameStop to lose money off it.

Mr. Jones, a college student from Kenosha, Wis., bought $300 in shares of AMC, the movie theater chain whose stock was also swept up in the backlash against short sellers.

“I just caught up in the social media hype and just dove right into it,” he said. “I fell for it.”

When AMC started to fall and he had lost $112, Mr. Jones panicked.

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