By now, we use Venmo so much that its name has secured a place in our cultural rolodex of new verbs.
While we most commonly use Venmo to send cash for everything from last night’s dinner to this month’s rent, there’s plenty of behavior on the app that’s led me to raise an eyebrow from time to time.
Sure, sometimes I catch myself attempting to decipher the meaning behind the emojis sent from one acquaintance to another, but in the year 2018 it’s time we really nail down what it means to be a good Venmo user. Here’s what you need to do to make your experience as innocuous as possible.
1. Don’t treat it like just another social media platform
Venmo: Because regular social media is not invasive enough.
— Denis (@Gramatik) December 5, 2017
Like lots of social apps, Venmo’s so woven into the fabric of our day-to-day lives that it’s sometimes treated like a fun online gathering space rather than what it actually is: just another functional tool on our phones. This happens for two reasons: Because the payment privacy settings default to public, some people make the mistake of 1) not changing it to private, or 2) taking another person’s public payment as an invitation to interact.
“We make it default because it’s fun to share [information] with friends in the social world,” a Venmo representative once told CNET, explaining that the company has seen “people open up Venmo to see what their family and friends are up to.”
If you are this person, please stop. Venmo deserves better. Don’t use it to catch up with friends in the comments — that’s what texting or calling is for. Save your “likes” for posts of more substance than just “$ for gas!”
2. Don’t bring up a friend’s Venmo transactions in the real world
What happens on Venmo should stay on Venmo. Please do not mention that Nicole and I got smoothies during our lunch break and use that Venmo transaction to start a conversation. Nor should you mention that I paid an Annie for bagels, whether you intentionally sought out that information on your Venmo feed or not. There are enough ways to stalk someone online without bringing up ways in which they have decided to spend their hard-earned cash.
On a more serious note, privacy concerns on Venmo are at an all-time high after news broke in July that the tool reveals an “alarming amount” of personal information — mostly because of the app’s default public setting. As we reported, security researcher Hang Do Thi Duc compiled more than 207 million Venmo transactions and determined that they can reveal a lot about a user’s personal life. Don’t do this if you’re not a security researcher.
In short, we should all be making our transactions private. But for those times we forget to change the setting, don’t be *that* person who takes things up to a creepy new level.
3. Relatedly, don’t use it to stalk celebrities
want a celeb’s venmo?? just ask me i can find 90% of them
— B Mensch (@ItsBMensch) May 28, 2018
Venmo makes it a little too easy to stalk everyone from your exes to…actual celebrities. There’s an art to tracking down celebrity Venmo profiles that I unfortunately mastered at one point in my life. But no matter how desperately you want the Chainsmokers to send you money to buy their music, there’s never an excuse for this level of stalking. It doesn’t matter if they’re big or small-scale stars. No matter how much you want celebrities to send you some of that sweet cash, maybe just wait for a giveaway from Bow Wow before pressing send on that request to the Liam Hemsworths or Kevin McHales of the world.
4. Pay — and charge — people right away
the tenth circle of hell is the etiquette of requesting money on venmo
— Molly Mirhashem (@mollyshirreen) May 29, 2018
This should be a no-brainer at this point, folks. We live in a time where instant gratification is the norm and if you can’t keep up then maybe you should stick to paying people back in cash whenever you get the chance to stop by an ATM.
That goes for charging people, too. Venmo thrives thanks to the fact that it lets you pay people back instantly, but perhaps my biggest pet peeve about transactions is when someone waits for days, or even WEEKS, before charging for some shared expense you can hardly remember.
5. Forget about the small payments
You should know that your friends will probably judge you for charging someone for any amount under $ 5. (This obviously varies from person to person. We all have bills to pay.) Chances are, you and your friend’s slightly uneven debts will eventually even out. Plus, generosity makes you live longer!
6. Don’t be afraid to use that reminder function — it shouldn’t come off as passive aggressive!
Don’t be that person who says they’ll Venmo you but takes forever and needs constant reminders. 🤐
— jro (@jennizerr) July 8, 2018
Talking about money with friends is still a bit of a taboo subject. But facing your fears and communicating clearly is better than being broke, so don’t be afraid to send out some reminders should you be waiting on big payments.
Unless you need $ $ for a timely payment (like a bill, for example,) maybe ease up on the day-after reminders. I usually wait a week before sending friends that sweet, sweet prompt to pay up. That way, you’ve give them a little leeway in case they don’t have push notifications enabled, are on vacation, or are just genuinely forgetful.
7. Don’t charge people for unexpected costs
On a similar note, communication is key — so don’t be that person who acts like they’re covering the bill only to secretly hit friends with unanticipated charges. I’ve seen Venmo charges like these break friendships! And fine, these are friendships that were, I’ll admit, already fragile, but it’s a slippery slope once you get into the habit of not communicating which expenses are shared and which you’ve got covered.
8. And above all else, be responsible
Venmo has thrown a wrench into modern dating etiquette, added a new card to your already crowded wallet, and likely a pretty standard part of your daily life. If you can help it, don’t succumb to its evil ways and use it as a tool to stalk your ex — or dump someone. That’s what literally every other app is for, so use Venmo for its intended purposes and you’ll be just fine.
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