There are better ways to spend your time than on Yik-Yak

If you haven’t heard of it, then you’ve been living under a Puget Sound rock. For those of you who don’t know, Yik Yak is a social media app where people can post their thoughts or musings on an anonymous forum.

Sounds pretty cool, right? I agree; it sounds cool. All signs point to it being a great way to commiserate with those around you, as the app operates by proximity. It can potentially celebrate and promote a shared campus identity among students that isn’t always acknowledged.

But that’s not how it gets used. It has become a forum for students and other users to gossip, fish for compliments and occasionally broadcast a pertinent piece of information that should under no circumstances be discussed namelessly.

In my experience there are four types of people who use the app.

Person 1: gossips about things that should probably be kept private, but instead is displayed for the speculation of the entire campus community.  Many times last semester, whenever an ambulance or fire truck would roll up to the school, Yik Yak would be abuzz about who and why and when and how. Clearly, if it’s serious enough that someone is going to the hospital, then it is sensitive enough that gossip could be a problem.

Person 2: just wants to be told how great they are. They say things like “I don’t think my crush likes me and I’m going to die alone.” This then usually elicits a flood of emotional outpouring and sympathy in the form of vague or clichéd sayings, such as “they don’t deserve you” or “there are other fish in the sea.”

Person 3: talks about things that they know nothing about. The conduct policy Residence Life staff hirings have been recent topics; this is information that should come with a trigger warning. Most people commenting exhibit no knowledge about how the school operates, or they choose to dwell on the negative and don’t care that the school’s staff genuinely care about the student body and are continually and actively trying to better the school’s flaws. Occasionally someone has a really good point; but when they do, Yik Yak is not the place to post it. If someone’s opinions or concerns are important, they should talk about it without anonymity and with someone who can do something about it.

Person 4: actually posts funny things. These are the people who, in my opinion, make the site worthwhile. However, they are few and far between and honestly, their posts usually are reposts from Reddit, Tumblr or Pinterest (disclosure: my top-voted Yik Yak was a repost.  I am not completely innocent of conceding to the will of the site.)

Yik Yak isn’t the first anonymous social forum to come to campus. UPS Confessions tried something similar last year, but it crashed and burned. That is because people, when allowed to do whatever they want with no consequences, more often than not abuse the system. The result is that people deride everything while still using the site because they don’t want to be out of the loop.

Yik Yak was funny for a while, but like with most things having to do with anonymity, it has derailed. As long as it exists, some people will use it and abuse it. I think our campus community, as a whole, should just stop.