By Tristan De La Cruz, Contributor
There is something appealing about posting anonymously online to gain the (dis)approval of everyone around you. The promise of more upvotes and “yakarma” becomes addicting very fast. After all, everyone wants to be heard. Yik Yak provides such a way. The anonymity of the platform allows a perfect way to post thoughts without fear of repercussions.
As someone who never used Yik Yak prior to coming to Furman, I have found that the program has a lot of potential. I would liken it to something of a small-scale Reddit or a purely text-based Tumblr. However, the app is unique in that it has an endless stream of user generated content. It has made me laugh harder than I have at most things and is hard to put down sometimes because of that. Indeed, anonymous postings have always been a great way to get your thoughts out and, consequently, I can finally share my terrible jokes with the world (or at least the campus).
Yik Yak, particularly on our campus, seems to have the ability to amplify ideas shared by multiple people. Popular posts can spread through campus within seconds. Then, those ideas are further spread by word of mouth. Complaints about the Wi-Fi, toilet paper and DH food seem to be shared collectively by everyone as indicated by the amount of upvotes they receive, and within just two weeks it seems as if everyone is in on the same inside jokes.
While these campus messages may seem good natured, there is a darker side to Yik Yak. When people are specifically called out on the app, the resulting conversations come close to cyber bullying. The general acceptance that it is okay to make fun of people can spread just as quickly as an innocently comical yak.
I have also seen vicious and malignant yaks spread. Slurs, insults and at least one incriminating picture were posted one night shaming a girl. At times like these, Yik Yak ceases to be just a bunch of jokes.
The danger of Yik Yak is when there ceases to be anonymity, either for the content creator or the subject of the content. I have personally been yakked about, as has my dormitory. While most of these yaks were good hearted, some were still difficult to take lightly. Being called out by members of my own community were, at the very least, startling. Therein lies the danger of Yik Yak.