man speaking (l) person putting gas in car (c) man speaking mad (r)

jittawit21/Shutterstock @trev.p629/TikTok (Licensed)

‘We can’t not buy gas’: TikToker’s video on alleged price-gouging by energy companies sparks debate about car dependency

‘The US was not made for bikes and walking, it was made for cars.’


Cecilia Lenzen


A TikToker’s viral video about energy companies allegedly hiking up gas prices has sparked a debate on the social media platform.

Gas prices have steadily increased since April, reaching a high of $5.02 per gallon on Tuesday, per CBS. While the first cost drop in months occurred Friday (down to $5), many have accused energy companies of price gouging fuel—an illegal offense that’s notoriously difficult to prove.

In May, the House of Representatives passed a bill along party lines that seeks to lower gas prices by cracking down on alleged price gouging by energy companies, according to reporting by CBS. However, no Republican representatives supported the bill, meaning it’s likely to fail in the Senate.

The creator of the viral video, known as Trevor Patchen (@trev.p629), like most, isn’t happy about the state of gas prices but argues that consumers are relatively powerless in this situation. Usually, if a business allegedly price gouges a product, customers can just boycott that product. But most people can’t do that when it comes to gas, he says.

@trev.p629 like boycotting was all we had #gasprices #pricegouging #capitalism #publictransportation #gas #car #boycott #boycotting ♬ original sound – Trevor Patchen

“We can’t not buy gas,” Patchen says in his video. “We have to buy gas because we’ve developed a society that revolves around cars and shit.”

He adds that where he lives there aren’t any small business gas stations that he can go to instead of “these massive fucking corporations.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do?” Patchen asks. “We’re the consumers, we should have all the power, but we don’t have any power. We have no power here.”

Plus, the TikToker says, if you live in the suburbs you usually don’t have good public transportation options.

About 45% of Americans have no access to public transportation, according to a 2019 report from the American Public Transportation Association. Those who are able to and do use public transportation save the U.S. about 6 billion gallons of gas annually.

Patchen’s viewers agreed that public transportation isn’t usually a viable option — and neither is walking or owning a bike, which some people propose as a solution to gas price gouging.

“Ok but what if we don’t buy it and just bike and stuff,” one viewer commented. In response to that comment, Patchen wrote, “not when people have a 20 minute drive to work.”

“I’d love to see the ‘just walk or get a bike’ people go 40 miles to buy 2 weeks worth [of] groceries with a bike,” a second viewer commented in agreement with Patchen.

“‘Just walk’ ‘just own a bike’ -someone who doesn’t live in the US,” a third viewer wrote.

One user said they would consider biking if it was safe. “I’d love to ride a bike to work, but it’s too dangerous,” they wrote. “A cyclist just got killed on my street by a daytime drunk driver.”

Someone else said, “Yup the US was not made for bikes and walking, it was made for cars.”

Instead of boycotting gas stations, one viewer suggested an alternative boycott.

“Let’s just all stop working then we can boycott every company by staying home,” they commented.

The Daily Dot reached out to user @trev.p629 via TikTok comment.

Update 12:49pm CT, June 19: We’ve also reached out to the TikTok creator via email.

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