During the past few weeks, Yik Yak, a free mobile app, has become increasingly popular among students.
Yik Yak is available to college campuses across the nation and allows students to anonymously post whatever they wish for everyone to see.
If viewers like what the poster has to say, they can “up” it by selecting the up arrow, if not, they can “down” vote the post. If a post gets enough “down” votes, it is removed.
“I think it’s popular because it’s completely anonymous unless you want to tell people that it was you who posted,” said freshman Zak Marten. “You can say anything you want. You can let your secrets out and hopefully no one knows it was you who said them. You can get stuff off of your chest without being judged to your face.”
Many of the posts on Yik Yak are harmless. Students admit to secret crushes or post funny anecdotes.
It seems many students enjoy the app for this reason, but the anonymity of the app has also created an opportunity for cyber bullying.
“It’s anonymous, so people can say what they are actually thinking,” said sophomore Lauren Kriesel. “People just like to be mean. On the app, they get to be mean and say what they want without people coming after them about their opinions.”
Junior Brittney Doll performed a social experiment about Yik Yak by posting an opinion that, while positive in nature, caused controversy.
“As my anonymous yak, I posted the following statement: ‘#WCW goes out to myself because I’m beautiful and I believe in myself. Ladies, confidence is key,’’ Doll said.
The responses she received regarding her post varied from offers to go on dates to insults. Doll explained a lot of the hatred received by posters on Yik Yak has to do with body shaming and that, as adults, students should learn to be more accepting of themselves and others.
Doll said people do not always realize the effect hurtful comments have on others.
“I think the most important thing to think about is the fact that there is always someone watching,” Doll said. “When you post a negative comment about someone, they are bound to see it themselves or hear about it through the grapevine. Someone is going to be affected.”
“People should use Yik Yak in a positive way,” Doll said. “Compliment someone. Make someone’s day. Don’t tear them down.”
Doll warns students that professors and employers can see what is posted if they download the app. She hopes this helps decrease the amount of gossip shared.
Yik Yak’s popularity can be used to create an uplifting and fun environment if students post as though everyone knows who wrote what.