My eldest son, a Covid tester since September, has used a chunk of his earnings to join the GameStop army. That’s GameStop, the games retailer at the centre of the “Reddit investors take on greedy shorting hedge funds” drama of the past week.
I cannot elaborate, because that is all I understand and if you use an “imagine you had a biscuit” analogy to explain, I will just want a biscuit. I am a medieval peasant, financially speaking: credulous and easily confused. What money I have – less than my son, I am starting to suspect – is hidden under the bed or at least the modern-day equivalent: a high-street bank account chosen for the gift it offered when I was eight (Griffin Savers all the way). I acquired a few shares when Halifax became a bank, but I don’t know what happened to them: I probably exchanged them for a handful of magic beans.
With my primitive worldview, the GameStop saga is horribly stressful and confusing. At one point on Wednesday my son had made enough money (“made”, “money”) to start worrying about his tax liabilities. “I’m up 400%,” he told me. “So sell?” I said confused. “No, you don’t understand,” he said, then explained, in what I call “business Martian” – the words making no more sense than the guttural barks of Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! aggressors. Sometimes, my husband chipped in, also in business Martian. The television is mysteriously tuned to Yahoo Finance; his phone screen full of red and green graphs.
By Thursday afternoon it was all going south, I think. I don’t know, because he agreed to stop updating me, since, “I can tell it’s stressing you out.” I have gleaned, however, that he is unlikely to be one of the teens who makes a killing on this madness. That is simultaneously disappointing for him, and a sort-of relief, since he will presumably not jack in education to become a bedroom trader. The stock market really is magic beans and as any medieval peasant will tell you, sticking with the cow is probably safer.
• Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist
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