I re-downloaded Yik Yak for a week – here’s what happened

 

By Sarah Stubbs

@sarahxstubbs

I remember being dramatically outraged when YikYak became a “thing” last year.

I thought to myself, “Great, another way for people to just say whatever they want and not have to stand behind their words.”

Now, over a year later, it’s still around and a few of my friends – and even some of my professors – get on the Yak frequently.

I supposed, as a journalist and editor of the University’s paper, it might be wise for me to re-download the app so that I could see what students are talking about. I’m always looking for story ideas and what better a place to look than the blunt, honest, and all-too inappropriate conglomeration of anonymous posts that make up YikYak?

Aside from the column you’re reading right now, my week spent on the Yak hasn’t inspired me to write or assign any new news stories. Rather, it’s kind of just made me sad and disappointed in my peers.

My first time on YikYak, I scrolled through the “hot” section and saw a few posts regarding the N-word and white privilege. Curious, I read the whole conversation.

Someone was posting about what he or she thought to be racial double standards; proclaiming that he or she is proud to be white and should be allowed to be since black people are. This was followed by replies such as “Yeah, my parents or grandparents didn’t have slaves” and “If a white person yelled ‘White power!’ there would be an outrage. But when a black person yells ‘Black power!’ it’s OK.”

Yikes.

I so badly wanted to post my rebuttal – but the conversation was so sporadic and offensive that I just decided to close out the app. It left me feeling sad that so many ignorant posts received several up-votes.

It baffles me that anyone could say white privilege or the patriarchy (which wasn’t being discussed, but they go hand-in-hand) is nonexistent. Look at congress. Look at just about any big corporation or business. Look around at our school – most of the students and professors are white.

Racism is a real problem in our country and especially in Hancock County and at the University. I always assumed it was, by conversations with my black friends who’ve shared with me what it feels like to be one of two black people in a classroom full of 50 white students or how uncomfortable they feel at a mostly white off-campus party, but YikYak confirmed that assumption for me a few days ago.

Aside from racist remarks, other posts were unsurprising and expected – spanning the topics of naps, cuddling, Netflix-and-chilling, drinking, and not wanting to do homework or study.

Many of the posts left me scratching my head and asking myself why that was necessary to post in the first place, but one in particular made my jaw drop. It said: “My girlfriend made a Tinder, should I be mad?”

Is that even a question?

Tinder is for meeting new people solely on a basis of whether or not you mutually find each other attractive – it’s not a place for people already in relationships. Yes, anonymous, you should probably be a little upset.

There were other self-help inquiries that I thought seemed obvious, but in retrospect I suppose that YikYak is a good place to go if you want general advice about something you’re unsure of and aren’t confident enough about to attach your name or face to. In those cases, anonymity is great. But just know that you’re also exposing yourself to the attack of strangers who will say mean, inappropriate things just because it’s anonymous and they can.

Also, don’t forget that at the end of the day you are the person who makes the shots in your life. It doesn’t matter that I think you should be upset with your girlfriend for making a Tinder account – you should come to your own conclusions by yourself or by the help of trusted friends or family members, not random college students.

Maybe I’m too sensitive for YikYak. It’s nice to see conversations play out about Issue 3, where the best tanning salon is, and when there are chicken nuggets in Henderson. And I suppose it’s useful when honest feedback is necessary. (There was a post asking about parking – which I’m presuming came from the security office, perhaps?).

But I’m still struggling see the app as a productive social place.

Perhaps it’s our generation. Maybe it’s just our American, college culture. But for now, I don’t think I need the app taking up any of the precious space on my iPhone.

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