I was reluctant when I first heard of Yik Yak: a positively unproductive dumping ground for useless knowledge, random thoughts, and surely some internet bullying. What I found wasn’t all that far from my assumptions. Sure there was the occasional witty comment,
“If you’re a homophobe, just remember, homophobe spelled backwards is ebohpomoh and that makes no sense just like your views”
But mostly it was pointless personal comments that either made no sense, were rude and uncalled for, or were just flat out annoying,
“I hope you notice me just as much as I notice you”
The only thing I noticed were how many minutes of my life I wasted on such an app that I would never get back. But that wasn’t even my main concern. My main concern was the “anonymous” factor – and here’s why:
If there was anything that was going to contribute to internet bullying, anonymity would do it. It’s been studied over and over again, the things people are willing to say and do when they don’t have to take responsibility for it, becomes more and more hurtful and offensive. It’s a personal belief I hold that if you say something you aren’t willing to take ownership of, chances are you shouldn’t be saying it in the first place. Censorship is a personal responsibility we adhere to and relinquishing ourselves of such responsibilities will only lead to certain consequences. Yik Yak did not seem like a genius idea to me, nor does it seem to attract the smartest people, but keeping an open mind I looked further into it, and found some good news after all.
Yik Yak was launched in November of 2013 and has gained popularity around the US in the past year. People can post, upvote, downvote, and comment all anonymously. It’s location based, within a certain geographical radius, making college campuses a hot spot for activity. I was pleased to find the creators of Yik Yak to take cyber bullying very seriously, and their response to it is strong. Yik Yak has geofenced (meaning blocked off) certain locations such as high schools (for bullying) and airports (for security purposes). There is an option to flag or report harmful, threatening, or inappropriate posts, as well as the downvote, which once a post gets enough of, will automatically delete the harmful content.
At the current moment, Yik Yak is contending with other social media sites for our attention, but honestly, I see it being just another burnout down the road. For those who choose to follow it, think before you post. Chances are, we don’t want to hear what you had for lunch or how many times you made eye contact with your crush today.
If you’re interested in sharing your own opinion of the app, let us know, and we can post your response as a guest submission.