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My Venmo Romance

A humble digital payment app emerges as an unlikely social media darling.

Last March, my girlfriend suggested we split the cable bill via Venmo, so I transferred $20 to her on the digital payment app—easy enough. Before the deal was done, prompted to leave a mandatory description, I dully wrote, “cable bill,” and shot it off. But as I scrolled through my public feed, absorbing the emoji-peppered activity log from my Venmo connections, I realized I was not only vastly underutilizing the comment section, but that I was missing out on a telling glimpse into my friends’ social lives. Instead of the carefully filtered Instagram posts and thinly veiled, humble-brag Facebook updates cobbling together a shiny illusion of my friends’ comings and goings, I was seeing their real social lives play out through the emerald-tinted lens of how they spent their money. Seeing these transactions meant it happened, monetarily and definitively—rent, concerts, dinners out, sly descriptions of “goods,” and more. I was hooked.

What’s more, Venmo removed the pressure from the occasionally awkward experience of dealing with money. Attaching an ironic or completely inane string of emoji or a silly metaphorical message to wire transfers makes Venmo almost ... pleasurable, whereas handing someone $60 in cash is painful to the point where I might put it off until it’s even more uncomfortable.


Still, for all of the modern generation’s touting of technology, mobile banking options have struggled to find traction. In 2015, just 12 percent of banking customers used a digital wallet, up from 7 percent in 2014. Blame the still rampant skepticism surrounding mobile payments, but Venmo’s genius integration of social engagement may be just the ticket to guiding users beyond security concerns and onto their platform. It’s the millennial feature everyone else missed, which may be one reason Venmo processed $2.5 billion in 2015’s fourth quarter, a 174 percent growth from the previous year.

When I see rent payments light up my feed every first of the month, it reassures me that I’m not the only one in my generation who still can’t plunk down a mortgage payment yet. This fiscal tidbit—and the fact that I know who had sushi together last night—are the little things that make Venmo so satisfying.

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Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

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via I love butter / Flickr

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