Is Venmo Affecting Friendships?

July 24, 2017
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Is Venmo Affecting Friendships?

See Thanks to Venmo, We Now All Know How Cheap Our Friends Are by TEDDY WAYNE of the NY Times. Excerpts:

“The two organizers [of a party] had itemized each woman’s individual expenses, which they had covered, and requested reimbursement through Venmo, an app that transfers money between users who have linked their bank accounts to their phones. Ms. Pennoyer owed $31.98 to one woman and $20.62 to the other.”

“In a previous time, the organizers likely would have asked everyone to bring enough cash to repay them in person or to mail a check afterward, courteously rounding down to $30 and $20. But the Venmo request, calculated to the penny, struck Ms. Pennoyer, 29, as emblematic of how the app, the most popular among her fellow millennials for everything from entertainment expenses to rent shares, “changes friendships and makes them more transactional,” she said. “It’s nickel-and-diming everything, literally.””

““I have a friend who’s against Venmo because he believes it harms the norm of social reciprocity,””

“Ms. Pennoyer agreed and recalled childhood taxi rides, when two adults would fight to treat the other. Now, thanks to a host (or perhaps that’s the wrong word) of money transfer and bill splitting apps — such as Divvy, which takes a photo of a restaurant receipt and assigns a bill to each diner — and a fare-splitting feature built into Uber and Lyft (for a 25-cent fee), “that doesn’t happen with my generation,””

“Once two people have decided to repay a debt with Venmo, there is the additional awkwardness of asking for payment.”

“The app also allows users to request payment — in other words, to send an acquaintance a formal invoice.”

“Yet, as with anything emoji-speckled or exclamation-point-riddled, there is a performative aspect to the memos, especially since the default mode is that transactions (though not the dollar amount) and contact lists are publicly viewable. Moreover, the app can search one’s phone contacts or Facebook network for users, and its default setting is to add new ones as they sign up for the service. As such, it is like any other social network in that you can lose yourself for hours roaming through the financial transactions of others (or just seeing who someone’s Venmo “friends” are).”

“It is possible to make one’s ledger and contacts private, but many users overlook these options”

“Ms. Pennoyer saw that two of her cousins socialized recently and didn’t invite her.”

“easy for a boss to search an employee’s full name on Venmo and discover a payment represented by a suggestive leaf.”

““You can tell who’s hooking up, if there’s enough of a pattern between two people that you thought were just friends but seem to be more than friends, because they leave a trail of clues via Uber payments or breakfast payments,””

“the strongest demonstration of intimacy might be abandoning the service altogether. Mr. Fuchs and his fiancée used to use Venmo, but in preparation for their recent wedding, the two opened a joint checking account and now pool their expenses there. “We’ve stopped settling up,” he said.”

(Why?)

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