Addison Smith | Opinions Editors
There’s something about being completely and utterly anonymous that excites people. No one can connect an odd or vulgar statement to you, which is why it seems Yik Yak has risen to the top of the app store and is on everyone’s cellphone.
For those of you who live under a rock or still have a flip phone (don’t worry, we at The Duke don’t judge), Yik Yak is a sharing platform where Twitter-like status updates can go out without a name to them. Basically, it’s anonymous Twitter to make a long story short.
While Yik Yak does provide pleasures like the occasional “yak” about Milano’s or Duquesne construction, the majority of the things seen on the app fall into these categories: Greek life bashing, advertisements for cuddle and adult activity buddies, missed connection advertisements and the occasional joke that actually lands.
Okay, so it sounds pretty harmless from the surface, but Yik Yak has proven to be something beyond control. If posts are anonymous, who will know which student on campus is bashing a sorority or fraternity? It’s a forum for cyberbullying to a new extreme unseen by other forms of social media.
Rebecca Sedwick was 12 years old when she took her own life after being cyberbullied by two of her classmates. She knew who her assaulters were, and one of them even posted after Sedwick’s suicide “I bullied Rebecca and [omitted] she killed herself,” according to Time.
Previously, in most historic cyberbullying cases, messages and hateful comments were exchanged with a face to them. People felt more in power because they weren’t exchanging these words face-to-face and there seemed to be no repercussions to sending a simple Facebook message sending a derogatory term.
While no “yak” has seemed to push that far, there still is a danger to posting without a face to it. People seem to get more courageous on the internet because they can do it from the comfort of their beds while on laptops and phones. No human interaction is involved in sending a text message instead of discussing feelings. There’s a difference between holding a conversation face to face and in person, because most times people will text things they couldn’t handle saying to another person’s face.
One of the perks of “anonymous” online posting is that those who post do not see the reaction of the person they are targeting, according to Psychology Today. While there may be replies on yaks or down votes, the ultimate problem is that there is no face connected to either side. The poster doesn’t get the raise that he would get in person from the target.
However, the internet isn’t always a negative when it comes to communication. If you find someone cute, you can simply strike up a conversation through Facebook. Just be sure you in person self is as willing to speak with him or her as your flirty Facebook self (or your attempted flirty self, we understand that some efforts will fall flat).
Yik Yak seems to be both a negative and a positive with a lot of room for a gray area. The positives? It’s a great time killer. Most times, it’s actually pretty humorous. It’s a great way to release some steam (with censorship, of course). The negatives? The anonymity seems to make people a little too bold. It’s a great time killer (you put off of a lot of homework by scrolling through Yik Yak). It can provide people with something to argue over and make rash judgments about.
Essentially social media can help you to express yourself, but simultaneously can help you to ostracize others. Yik Yak just seems to be another means for this. Like everything you do on social media, Yik Yak should be used with caution. You never know what could become public knowledge eventually.