For those of you who have not caught up with 21st century, Yik Yak is an anonymous forum where individuals within a locality can communicate. Characterized by the anonymity that it gives users, Yik Yak has already caused furor on our campus with students finding all sorts of offensive and distasteful content.
As you might guess by now, I am not the biggest Yik Yak advocate. In fact, until writing this piece, I did not even have an account. However, my point in writing this is not necessarily to denounce its use, but instead to condemn those who use it maliciously. To put it plainly, Yik Yak, while not a bad idea, has become a veil for cowards who are too afraid to voice their opinions. While I think Yik Yak should have a place on campus, I do not think that any of us benefit from people using it in its current state.
But what exactly is happening on Yik Yak these days? What could be so hideous as to trigger a politically correct young liberal like myself?
Let us begin not with the content, but the topics that make their way onto Yik Yak. Sexual assault has been a hot topic on campus, and as such the conversation quickly infiltrated Yik Yak. But as important as this topic is, the great majority of the commentary on Yik Yak seems to be strictly focused on specific students involved on the issue or their reaction—never on the actual topic of assault.
Likewise, the issue with the lists of demands from the Students of Color as well as Gay Lesbian Or Whatever (GLOW)’s demands have been met with backlash from users who felt that such actions were unnecessary. Users even went as far as to attack the individual groups involved on these actions. It seems to me that there are Yik Yak users that disagree just for the fun of it.
But, having disagreements is not a bad thing. In fact, having varying opinions could really im-prove things on campus. Hard-headed disputes make for some of the best learning experiences, and I would definitely like to see more of this. But, on our tiny, almost-homogenously liberal campus, that does not always happen, leading us to forget that there is a world out there where not everyone thinks like a typical Lawrentian. Opinions, even those that are unpopular on this campus, deserve to be heard.
However, just as all opinions deserve to be heard, they also deserve to be challenged. Truly satisfactory debate only occurs if people own the beliefs they adhere to. Otherwise, you just waste your time throwing your personal beliefs into a pool of nonsense.
Speaking of time, one of the main flaws of Yik Yak is its lack of solvency. Posts and comments on Yik Yak are not permanent, which means that the things that happen there today will be erased from the Yak in two days. Anyone who deems their own opinion as relevant would usually attempt to preserve it. Instead, Yik Yak offers a temporary hideout for those with unsavory things to say.
I will admit that not everything on Yik Yak is a political or ideological ruckus. As I mentioned, Yik Yak does have unique attributes that make it very appealing to a wide range of audiences, especially in a collegiate setting.
The “nonsense” that floats around there does have some importance. We all want to complain about the weather, see pictures of puppies, and find out which fraternity is partying tonight. Without Yik Yak, that commentary would be less fluid. Some people even use it to hook up. Which is fine—I mean, you do you.
But nonsense and fun aside, Yik Yak is actually quite a dark place that exemplifies some of our failures. Posts regarding depression and mental stress often find little attention on Yik Yak. It is definitely sad to know that there are members of our community that have no place to turn but here. I do not discourage students from expressing their feelings this way, but I think we must reflect on the fact that not very many can help these voices if their call is through an anonymous cellphone application.
As a new user, I might not know much about Yik Yak, but I know that as it stands now, it can offer very little to us. I would like to conclude with an invitation for all those students who often succumb to debating or to just plain insulting on Yik Yak—try engaging in real discourse and stop hiding being your phone screen. And yes, I’m talking to you, Trump supporters. Yik Yak might get more readers than I do writing for The Lawrentian, but at least I can proudly stand by my words.