Yik Yak was an incredible app. I first heard of Yik Yak in high school when it was glorified as an anonymous social media app that only college students had the privilege of using. My friends and I loved the freedom of posting anonymously, and we were the only people for miles at our boarding school in CT. No more than 100 people even knew what it was, and the most popular yak was inevitably one about our great dean that read: “Tim swims with a t-shirt on.” @thelipper. We had a great time for about a month until the IT department blocked it for some relatively innocuous posts and my relationship with Yik Yak was briefly suspended.
I rediscovered Yik Yak at BC when all of my new classmates were excited at the prospect of anonymously posting anything to the supposed legendary BC Yik Yak. The overall opinion on campus, however, seemed to feature a major divide between students who loved the app and used it frequently and others who decried it for the insensitive and hurtful posts that were very frequent on the feed. The latter view is certainly the biggest problem on Yik Yak. It is easy to expect members of our beloved herd to take advantage of the veil of anonymity to post ideas or feelings that they would never dream of posting on Facebook or Twitter. Even if only for a couple of seconds, Yik Yak gives a voice to controversial opinions and brings them to a public forum. To combat this, users can monitor and downvote posts they don’t like while Yik Yak robots simultaneously flag posts with hate speech, racial slurs, etc. While this can be seriously offensive to some, I do not even think it is the biggest problem.
People love to talk about how much time social media users (especially college students) waste online. Someone who spends a lot of time on Facebook or Instagram might get a hard time for the hours they “waste” on these websites. However, I dare to propose that Facebook and Instagram are not even wastes of time. You can talk directly with people you know and even keep up with old friends from years past, two uses that one could argue serve at least a functional purpose. On Yik Yak, even that is not possible.
With one cursory scroll through BC’s Yik Yak, you will see exactly what I am talking about. The app is simply a glorified social media trashcan where all of the most worthless thoughts and complaints find themselves. It is social media’s island of misfit toys, if you will. I imagine that these ideas end up on Yik Yak because nobody has friends willing to listen to complaints about the temperature, one of BC’s many stairwells, someone’s complete lack of a love life (when pizza is bae #fatguymoves), or the disparity between the quality of toilet paper and the tuition.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.