Yik Yak: The Problem With Anonymity
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Politics and Activism

Yik Yak: The Problem With Anonymity

Yik Yak: The Problem With Anonymity

Let me begin by emphasizing that I am a proponent of freedom of speech. No matter how much I disagree with someone else’s words, I respect their rights to say them. Even the act of arguing about beliefs can bring us to a greater understanding of our own viewpoints. It is good to disagree. It is good to allow our own analyses to evolve during the process of discussing them with someone else. It is not good to say whatever comes to your mind no matter how rude or insensitive it is. I think most people would agree with me, because most people don’t behave that way. That is, they don’t when they are held accountable for their words.

Apps such as Yik Yak provide a forum for users to post their thoughts anonymously. As a general rule, I have never had a real problem with Yik Yak. Sometimes, the lack of social pressure can lead to a yak that has just the right amount of truth to it. Often, it can produce a yak that is simply hilarious. Other times, it is simply a forum for undue hate. These people can say these hateful things without a second thought, because no one will know who it was. The person can do damage to another person without the threat of any backlash beyond a poor yakarma score (which, by the way, has virtually no significance whatsoever). In the past this has rarely been the case, but with the advent of the Internet and apps like Yik Yak, society has an outlet for every mean, hurtful, destructive thought.

One of the first things you learn in Sociology is that for society to function, sanctions are necessary. Sanctions are a way to check one another’s behavior. For example, if someone says something outwardly racist, others will react in a way that teaches that person their behavior is wrong. While they have the right to say it, if they want to get along with others they shouldn’t say it. Even further, if they want to be a good person they shouldn’t think it. So the problem with Yik Yak is that while you could call a down vote a sanction, it rarely stops people from saying a racist or sexist comment. The sanction is not severe enough to discourage the behavior.

The more people are exposed to these disgusting prejudgments, the more likely they are to voice or even form their own prejudgments. It becomes a vicious cycle, and all the while no one has to own up to what they did. No one is accountable to their words, to the damage they have caused. Most of the yaks are not this severe. Most are funny, or boring, or dumb, but some are damaging. Technology has brought about many amazing and wonderful advancements, but I think if we really think about it, a world where people behave as if no one is watching isn’t really progress.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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