May 21, 2019

The Emerging Etiquette of Venmo

“There is a deep, under-discussed divide among every group of friends I know that has nothing to do with politics or income bracket or level of traditional hotness. It is whether or not a person will request an amount less than $5 from someone on Venmo.

Venmo, an app that lets you pay people without giving them cash, has somehow eclipsed Facebook, Instagram, and all the dating apps combined to become the most interesting social networking site on your phone. As a piece in the Atlantic articulated way back in 2014, the Venmo newsfeed includes all the unsexy little updates from friends like whether they split a cab or ordered wine at dinner that didn’t make it onto their Instagram stories — thereby revealing the actually important details, like who they’re with and what they’re doing.

And with this new mode of social networking comes entirely new rules for etiquette. Rules like “don’t wait three weeks to pay someone back” or “when you’re paying someone for a drink, include tip” are canon, but the one that nobody seems to agree on is what to do when the amount of money in question straddles the threshold of being trivial.

To be sure, a “trivial” amount of money varies widely from person to person, which makes our Venmo habits that much messier. And there are plenty of other concerns, too: privacy, guilt over appearing stingy, and the fact that requesting $12 from someone for a drink after you’ve already said your goodbyes is kind of a bummer of a way to bookend the night.”

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