I get it that my mom, who’s in her 70s, doesn’t know how to copy and paste a simple line of text and probably doesn’t even realize there’s a private message feature on FaceBook. What I don’t get, though, is how all Generation Xers—my contemporaries—don’t use Venmo. Are you kidding me??? This app is the best thing that ever happened to me since meeting Ray. It’s like, “Wait, you’re telling me that when I owe people money, I can instantaneously pay them back and don’t have to go through the steps of remembering to write a check, addressing an envelope, wasting a stamp and driving to a mailbox?” That’s dreamlike—with the time I save, I could buy a lot more useless shit on Amazon. Wow.
So, why don’t some of my friends take advantage of this utopian app? I did some very in-depth and professional research to find out why. Translation: I accosted them by text. This made me realize why I chose opinion writing over hard-nosed journalism as I read the response of Friend 1: “I like cash, checks and credit cards. Not Venmo. There’s no other reason. I don’t ‘wanna Venmo. I won’t be bullied into it, and I’m not using it. There’s no answer other than that. I just don’t want it!” Slam went that bulletproof door, so I moved on and texted Friend 2. She explained that her family has had identity theft issues, so they wanted to limit their online exposure. She then added, “I’ve since given in, and I use Venmo but only when necessary. I had to for group stuff—gifts and shiva. I couldn’t be the odd man out anymore.” Friend 3 also threw her e-hat in the ring despite worrying about the security of her bank account. If it was good enough for her financially-savvy friends, it was good enough for her.
Friend 4 doesn’t have her own Venmo account but doesn’t let that stop her. “Oh, how much were the tickets? I’ll have my husband Venmo you.” That’s what I call a Friendmo account, where someone else does the Venmoing for you. She told me that she can’t have her own account, because only one Venmo account can be linked to a particular bank account. Friend 4 didn’t really want to hear from me that she could still have her own account and simply not link it to a bank account. It would be like a virtual jar where you add and send money directly to and from that jar. “YES, BUT WE DON’T WANT TO DO IT THAT WAY!” Did she just tell me to fuck off? Yes, she did.
The fifth and final friend I asked is one tough motherfucker, who ignores the constant urging of friends to “just use Venmo already!” She admits it’s probably an irrational fear of someone being able to access her money and even allows her kids to link it to their bank accounts. She pays bills and shops online using credit cards, so I asked, “What makes you think someone won’t hack your credit card?” She said, “They can, and I can cancel it—they still won’ have access to my whole bank account.” Okay, I couldn’t argue with that rationale. But, her last reason of not wanting people to be able to see who she paid was unfounded. You can choose to have a private feed, and, even if the other Venmo user has a public setting, the transaction will be cloaked. And thank god for that, because I don’t need anyone seeing I pay my boyfriend for sex.
So, is there truth to these paranoias, or is it safe? A little research will tell you that even though Venmo uses data encryption and offers users a PIN code option, it is not a foolproof system. A thief can take up to $2,999.00, because that’s the maximum balance allowed. To protect yourself best, you’re supposed to keep small amounts in your account, only interact with people you know and keep your account private. As an inherently lazy person, who has her dry cleaning picked up and delivered and controls her thermostats from bed, these risks would never deter me from using this miracle app.
Possibly the best benefit of Venmo, though, is sidestepping the awful exercise of hunting down those friends who always seem to “forget” to pay you back. I used to avoid heading up group gifts, because I didn’t like shaking people down even when writing those sweet-sounding group emails: “This is a gentle reminder that I have not yet received your check for Betty’s 40th group gift. She’s now 47. Thank you.” You can check your history on Venmo, too. When a friend says, “I paid you for that already,” you can say, “No, you haven’t, you lying, cheap bitch.” Oh, and, how could I forget that, if you have a college kid, you need Venmo as much as you need Xanax? “Mom, I need money in my account. I can’t eat.” Knowing he blew his money on weed, I smirk as I transfer the money anyway and type “act of mercy” in the Venmo reason line.
I bet you didn’t know that you can Venmo people who don’t even have it. I was the asshole who did that to my sister-in-law. When you click on the icon to pay someone, all of your contacts’ emails come up, and Venmo allows you to send money to a person without an account. I assume it starts one of those virtual jars I mentioned above. My sister-in-law is now a faithful Venmo user and has me to thank…I think.
It’s clear that I have a bit of contempt for people who resist Venmo. I will work on being an accepting and loving person with this mantra: “They are good people; They don’t mean to inconvenience anyone; I will respect their right to choose.” Oh, please, I can’t even say this crap. Just get fucking Venmo already!
I dedicate this blog to the Venmo users in my life. Thank you for saving me paper, ink, stamps, gas and time. Thank you for paying me promptly. And, thank you for participating in the 21st century.
*All names have been changed.
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