I have Yik Yak. I check it from time to time. Some of it is absolutely hilarious. People yak stuff worthy of being tweeted and re-tweeted and favorited. Yaks that are worthy of claiming and being proud of. Yik Yak is an app that allows you to anonymously post tweet-like content and view other Yaks in your area.
The problem that has been causing a minor uproar is that Yik Yak is entirely anonymous. Nothing anyone says, yaks, comments, up-votes or down-votes is connected with a name. So you can’t claim your Yik Yak fame. But some of the time people probably don’t even want to claim their yaks because they are rude or offensive.
Yik Yak can be a place where hilarity ensues but instead it has also become a place where anonymity can bring out the worst in people.
It reminds me of something like writing stupid graffiti on a bathroom stall in middle or high school. People will see it, and if it’s really funny they’ll say something about it, even though they had no idea who said it. But in reality that is all the person doing the writing wants: to have what he or she says noticed.
When I was younger and my brothers would get on my nerves, my mom used to tell me that if I just ignored them, they would stop bothering me. Thirteen-year-old me rarely heeded this advice, but I think that you can apply the same suggestion to how you view Yik Yak.
Yik Yak is all about shock value. It’s about saying stuff that isn’t politically correct or polite.
As I was writing this column, it took me awhile to figure out what my stance on the app was, but then I realized it’s because I feel completely neutral about it.
I’m not particularly pro Yik Yak; I think a lot of what’s being said is just downright pointless. But most of the people who use the app realize that too. I think when it gets to the point of bullying a specific person then yakking has gone entirely too far. If you’re not going to attach your own name to something, then leave the name dropping out of Yik Yak.
But I’m also not particularly against Yik Yak. As I said earlier, it’s funny sometimes. Someone yakked the other day, “Trying to find a parking spot at this school is like trying to find an open Chick-fil-A on a Sunday.” If you don’t want to read the negative comments then just don’t get the app.
Yes, people say rude things that you could probably do without seeing. But the thing is, if you never download the app and never look at it, then you will indeed go without seeing it. No one is direct messaging you, reading it to you or forcing you to indulge.
There’s a phrase that our culture likes to throw around when we say mean and rude things: “no offense.” “No offense but…” has become a way to make mean things sound nicer. It tries to soften the blow of something harsh by making an excuse for it.
I think of Yik Yak like that. People try to soften the blow of what they say by not actually claiming it.
The problem is, just like saying “no offense,” not claiming what you say doesn’t make it any nicer. But not everything on Yik Yak is mean. And nearly everything on Yik Yak that may sound mean is entirely a joke or sarcastic. Most of the time, the reason people don’t put their names with it is because they don’t want to be taken seriously.
But in case you were wondering, you can still get caught on Yik Yak for things you say. According to The Journal News, a high school student yakked about the Yorktown Highschool exploding. The police found him by using GPS tracking and he was charged with juvenille deliquincy.
I’ll leave you with this: if Yik Yak bothers you, just don’t download the app. It probably won’t affect you in any way, shape or form.
If you like Yik Yak, use it without being a bully. There’s a fine line between being stupid and being a jerk. And in the end, what you say can probably be tracked back to you.
So Yak at your own risk.