No generation’s spending habits have been under more scrutiny than those of millennials.
Everyone wants to know what us millennials are (or aren’t) doing with our money. We’ve got the blood of department stores, casual dining and even diamonds on our hands.
With a quick scroll through an average young person’s favorite mobile payment app, though, you can track just about every dollar they’ve spent from monthly rent all the way to the $5 they paid their roommate for feeling guilty for eating two of their cookies without permission.
Editor’s note: It’s almost as if Juanita is speaking from personal experience…
Venmo is a free app that serves the purpose of facilitating simple monetary exchanges between users. Think of it as the hip, fun younger sibling of PayPal, the app’s owner.
Once users link their bank accounts with the app, they’re ready to pay someone back for half a pizza in no time. That’s not even the start of what makes Venmo so fascinating, though.
Editor’s note #2: I have so many questions about that baby transaction. So. Many. Questions.
By linking Facebook with Venmo, the app becomes a scrollable timeline where you can view transactions made by everyone from your best friend to your fifth grade crush to whom you sent a friend request back in 2009. There’s even a public feed where users can see transactions made by strangers from all over the world. (But yes, you can control your privacy settings.)
The Social Experience
Venmo has taken the act of spending money into an experience that can be shared and viewed by anyone in your network.
unfortunately my ex boyfriend has the most boring venmo feed
— roche (@kvetchkween) July 8, 2017
It’s fascinating to see how much people are willing to reveal about themselves and their spending habits on an app that is secure, but not entirely private.
Matters of money often feel intimate, and that’s part of why it feels so enthralling to scroll through the Venmo transactions of your peers and friends. Most people wouldn’t say they open Venmo just to see what people are spending, but if you’re already in the app to make a transaction, it’s hard to resist a scroll through your feed (and the giggles that’ll surely be included).
Sometimes I just like to creep on people's Venmo transactions. Why have you been buying "👖🚑🔮💉" so much lately?
— Ryan Felix (@Felixrd1) July 8, 2017
The Spark of Creativity Mixed With The Intrigue of Money
Money has been a part of our social lives before people were still paying dowries in order to secure a hand in marriage. Venmo, however, let us get creative with how we spend.
With the ability to exchange money in a way that feels theoretical—a bunch of emojis that tell the story of a wild night out, for example—instead of simply exchanging physical dollar bills with someone, a lot of the social rules about money go out the window. The possibilities for Venmo are endless: Make an ex jealous, resurrect an old inside joke in your payment description, remind people to pay you back so you never lend out too much… The list goes on.
A more creative approach to splitting the costs of takeout and Wi-Fi.
This room for creativity mixed with the exhilaration of attaching money to your wit is what makes Venmo a social network full of untapped potential.
Getting Your Money’s Worth?
With a new way of spending comes a new way of thinking about spending. It’s never been easier to make a transaction, but at what cost?
“Venmo me” has become a part of our vernacular, but as a result, generosity has become harder to execute among our peers. Before, buying a friend a beer might have resulted in the same favor returned at the next outing. Now, though, it’s not rare for the buyer to be reimbursed before they even leave the bar.
There’s a lot of potential for interaction and fun on Venmo, but the app’s popularity also begs the question of how many seemingly mundane activities in our lives will one day become social experiences online. What boundaries are left between our private and public lives, and how do we navigate a world in which everything we do is another entry on a social feed?
Hey, we never said we had all the answers. What do you think?