Venmo, the simple phone app that lets users transfer money, launched in the spring of 2012 and has hit its stride as the go-to payment system in recent months. It’s useful, seemingly safe, and easy.
For reasons unknown, the payment app also features a public “social” component. All transactions on Venmo are visible to other users: Opening the app reveals a newsfeed-style record of others’ spending habits. The dollar values aren’t public, but the user-provided description of goods rendered is. Venmo posts two feeds — one for your contacts (from your phone, Facebook, Gmail, etc.) and one for all of the Venmo users of the world. It’s not an obviously functional aspect of the app, nor is it a publicized one, but it’s become a fascinating and strange, semi-ignored social media outlet.
Since no one knows what Venmo expects us to do with these feeds, they’re currently in Wild West mode. Perhaps because Venmo doesn’t acknowledge this feed, posts are ruled by candor and unchecked bluntness. There are brag-y, party-substance listings and countless payments between bros for “blow jobs.” A joke that never gets old! A friend — blindsided by Venmo’s public nature — paid someone for “pooping” after a meal gave her food poisoning and a semi-rando in my feed just forked over funds alongside the description “so gassy right now :( “. A presumed hookup between acquintainces was suggestively confirmed by a Sunday morning remittance “for breakfast ;).” This is all among the utilitarian flood of payments: “for rent,” “con ed,” and “utilities” at the end of the month. It’s a satisfyingly realistic pendulum swing between TMI and boring bills.
We didn’t ask for this social network, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. So without further delay:
9 Alternative Ways to Use This Venmo Feature You Didn’t Ask For
1. Cleaning out old phone contacts.
Who are these people?
2. Making exes jealous.
While creating a tiny gallery of party pictures is obvious bragging, redistributing funds on Venmo is a necessity. So what if your social life is just outrageously full at this moment? And while everyone knows Instagram is full of cheery bullshit, an ambiguous Venmo description seems grounded in reality while still letting the imagination run wild. No matter if “for last night” means you embarked on a joint beer-run and never spoke again. Venmo doesn’t care!
There is veritas to Venmo’s social network: Your money is where your mouth is. It’s proof of a shared experience in real time. The teens have already thwarted the implication of an actual shared activity, though, reports The Wall Street Journal. Some youths are paying each other token amounts just for a post and their never-satisfied amusement.
3. Public shaming.
Did someone throw up on something you own and offer to get the dry-cleaning bill? Be sure to remind them: In addition to sending payments, Venmo also lets you send “charges.”
4. Praising your wonderful friends.
Anecdotally, the public shaming on Venmo’s feeds seems to be kept to a minimum. Payments can be an excuse for earnest, loving praise. People are paid: “For being rad” and “For being you [SUNSHINE EMOJI].”
5. An inventory of everyone’s diet.
Moms of the world: I’d like to report that people eat pretty healthfully! Lots of payment for salad and fro-yo. Also the pizza emoji.
6. New slang discovery.
I forgot that British people call bachelorette parties “hen parties.” Ha!
7. Keeping tabs on who is getting weird with whom.
They still hang out? They started hanging out? Ah. Okay.
8. A report on which roommate is the responsible one.
Similarly, around Father’s Day or holidays, you can see who is actually organizing the gifts and activities and who is tagging along.
9. Public thanks.
This is my favorite post on all of Venmo: “For making you buy something at Dunkin’ Donuts because I had to pee.”
Like a coffee bought by a friend because of someone else’s biological needs, the Venmo feed isn’t necessary, but a willing party can certainly enjoy it.