Let’s Talk About Yik Yak

yikyakYou’ve likely heard about the social media app, Yik Yak.  But just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown per Wikipedia:

Yik Yak is an app that allows people to anonymously create and view posts within a 1.5 mile radius depending on how many other users are nearby.

Basically, Yik Yak is like Twitter, except its anonymous.  And there’s the issue with it… anonymity.

Eric Stoller had a fantastic article on InsideHigherEd last month about the latest app craze on college campuses.

If you’ve ever perused internet message boards, or places like Reddit, you’ll understand that most offensive or abusive posts come under the veil of anonymity.  If people don’t have to attach some sort of identity to what they are posting, there are generally no consequences to what they say.  And unfortunately, that often times yields things that are hateful and/or hurtful.

People start saying things that they wouldn’t say in face-to-face conversation, or as I’ve heard them referred to, they become “keyboard cowboys.”

Obviously, anonymity is not inherently a bad thing, but I think when people have it, it leads down a bad road more times than not.  I downloaded the app, just to see what an “anonymous Twitter” would provide.  And sure enough one of the first two posts I saw was extremely cringe-worthy.  Was there anything harmless on there?  Sure.  A good bit actually.  But for every three harmless posts, there was at least one that was sure to make someone, or some people, pretty upset or embarrassed.  Sometimes the posts were even directed at a named person.  Yikes.

And it’s no surprise Yik Yak is marketed to college students (they already had to block it from high schools).  An age group where maturity and responsibility are still developing.

So I guess my point is this… What’s the benefit?

Sure, there was the occasional laugh, but can’t you get that from a million other social media venues?

How does Yik Yak contribute positively to society, and more specifically, college campuses?  I honestly can’t think of one way.  As Eric Stoller said in his article on Inside Higher Ed last month, “their platform provides a safe-haven for bullies and those who would engage in all sorts of cowardly missives.”

I just don’t think its worth it.  It doesn’t deserve a place in the higher education world, or society in general, for that matter.bcollins2