The talk of the town for the past few months on campuses across the country has been a new social media app, Yik Yak. For those of you not familiar with Yik Yak, please read no further and continue living a pure and sheltered life. Otherwise, continue on.
Firstly, the app’s platform is based on anonymity and voting. Users can post and vote other users posts up or down, all anonymously. There are two feeds of yaks: the “new” feed, comprised of the most recently posted and the “hot” feed, comprised of yaks with the highest votes for the day.
Yik Yak creators initially built the app with the intention of students and staff updating each other on school events, breaking news, and general information. Though this is a healthy portion of Yik Yak, the majority of the posts are hard to swallow.
Yik Yak has been successful because it is a culmination of all of our favorite social networking sites in one. Or more accurately, everyone steals from all of our favorite social networking sites.
It’s an anonymous Twitter with all your favorite Tumblr text posts. Tinder, Kik, OkCupid are available, but why use a dating web service when you can yak your way to someone’s heart or bed? The only app missing is Snapchat. I, personally, cannot wait until Yik Yak adds a photo feature.
Posts asking for sex, bashing women, and talking about victories and tragedies inside the bathroom are an acquired taste unless you’re into that kind of thing.
However, Yik Yak has been an effective PSA. I no longer trust the cleanliness of doorknobs, staircase railings, or desk tabletops. You need hand sanitizer? I got you.
All jokes aside, women learn and live on campus amongst the same posters who consistently disrespect them online. Sure, there’s civility within the confines of a classroom, but behind the guise of anonymity, civility turns to villainy.
Not only are female students targeted, but female professors. While I’m pointing out women specifically, almost anyone can be attacked and almost everyone has.
Now this speech is troubling, but what makes it a bigger problem is the rating system within the app. The rating of a yak determines visibility and unfortunately, presumed validity. Yaks that demean women, bully other students, and are generally violent or aggressive rank high within Yik Yak.
The campus community is essentially rewarding bad behavior.
With the simple tap of an up or down arrow on the screen, a message is being transmitted throughout the campus: we approve of this virtual assault on women and fellow classmates and we overwhelmingly encourage it.
While this endorsement of negativity may not concern you as a student, it should concern campus officials.
ABAC is reputable and known for friendly, well-mannered, and well-educated students. With bullying and sexual abuse towards women becoming hot topics throughout the country, there is a responsibility to keep ABAC’s reputation untarnished, whether it is through actual on-campus interactions or virtual communication.
ABAC administration could at least take advantage of the networking tool to push forth campus information and publicize hosted events.
Yik Yak has potential to become what it set out to be: a positive tool used to navigate the uncharted collegial waters.
However, the behavior of users within Yik Yak is counteractive in bringing the campus community together. Instead, the app divides.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are going to download Yik Yak and change the behavior or those who are going to perpetuate it (and likely trash this article). Choose wisely. Happy yakking.