By TANNER HANCOCK
The first rule about Yik Yak: don’t talk about Yik Yak. Clearly,
I’m breaking that rule.
Free from the burden of personal responsibility, users frequently take advantage of the app’s lack of liability by posting anything and everything that could be deemed offensive. From personal call outs to brutal fraternity and sorority bashings, Yik Yak acts as a sort of faceless Twitter board that allows individuals to say exactly what’s on their mind without any worry of reprisals from the angry people they offend.
Originally conceived by Furman University students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, the app connects up to 500 users within a limited geographic area (1). Taking hold in such universities as Ole Miss, Georgia and our own University of Tennessee, the app is especially popular on college campuses where Yik Yak’s general lack of consequences attitude is practiced and embraced by virtually every student with a smartphone.
Generally, the posts on the app tend to be racist, sexist and generally offensive to anyone with a pulse, but that doesn’t stop some genuinely funny and witty messages from occasionally rising to the surface. If you’re the kind of person who gets upset when someone badmouths your respective sorority or fraternity, this app is definitely not for you. Then again, if your feelings are that easily hurt, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about than Yik Yak.
For all the hype surrounding Yik Yak, it has its share of problems. Cyber bullying has become such an issue on the app that the creators had to shut down service for the entire city of Chicago when it became clear that high school students weren’t mature enough to use it (2). This remains a problem even around our own campus, where students are frequently hurt by the faceless, and often ruthless, bashings of nameless attackers. Fortunately, Yik Yak comes with a fail-safe, as posts are immediately removed when reported as inappropriate by at least two users.
The emergence of Yik Yak poses serious questions for the student body as a whole, namely, whether or not this is something we should take seriously. Like it or not, this app isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. So long as college students have smartphones and the desire to talk trash, Yik Yak will have a booming and consistent base to support it.
In the end, the only thing we can do is accept the things we can’t change and learn to laugh, in the meantime. You can’t stop people from saying bad things about you, but you can change the way you react to it. Never look at Yik Yak as something that should be taken seriously, but take it for what it is – a joke. Enjoy the posts that make you laugh, ignore the ones that don’t, and don’t ever let yourself get caught up in an app that promotes immaturity, because you might reveal yourself to be a little immature in the process.