The anonymous app that brings out a whole new side of people
In November 2013, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington launched Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app designed to create and view posts within a 1.5 mile radius. After graduating, Droll dropped out of medical school to sustain Yik Yak, and Buffington timed-out his finance career.
The intention of these two university graduates was to create an instant feed of what is happening in the immediate area. Buffington told Forbes magazine, “Imagine people in Ferguson, Missouri “Yik-Yakking” about what’s going on. Anytime anything newsworthy happens, people are going to be going to Yik Yak to see what people there are saying.”
That’s nice of them to create an app that is an aid for those who are in the area. So, the intentions are great and all, but the results of what the app is known for is contrary to the purpose it was designed for.
Union College is known for its friendliness, hospitality, and hominess. If we have anything going for us, it is our community. However, it seems like Yik Yak threw our community-kindness to the side of the road to be trampled on. Anonymity gives us the power to say whatever we want.
Yik Yak, as funny as it may be, has dehumanized Union.
I know that not everyone on Yik Yak bashed on pretty twenty-year-old girls, roasted professors, or wanted to have sex with that curvy chick. Not everyone on Yik Yak posted inappropriate things, but because you don’t know who does, the negativity is weaved into the tapestry of common posts. If you want to be unkind, Yik Yak is the place to do it. But, it’s also the place to be a coward and a jerk. You might post nice things–but no one remembers the nice things.
Here are the not-so-anonymous views from some of your fellow students:
Isaac Houston: I think that it is negative. It is pretty funny to read sometimes but I saw people just being awful. . . We all think a lot of those things. . . but something [sic] are just better left unsaid.
Laryssa Schnell: Being a lover of people, I enjoy having the capability to interact with my friends and new people everywhere! However, I was appalled with the things that came up on my yik yak feed... Anonymity is one of the said "benefits" of Yik Yak. I feel like if you need a reason to stay anonymous, your words may not be necessary. The opportunity to witness and show who we are [to non-Union students in the area] was overshadowed by the immaturity of some.
Lindsey Parsons: I hate it. I think that it enables bullying, giving people the courage and ability to say hurtful things about people without owning up to it. . . People hanging out on Yik Yak on our campus would have no idea that we are a Christian college. . .
Gary Obreque: When I first got Yik Yak, there were some pretty funny posts that UNL had put up and some Union ones. But when other Union students started getting it, it’s sad to say that it wasn't as funny anymore. Too many people were name dropping and bashing on their own school. It becomes a little embarrassing when even UNL starts asking questions about why we attend the school if we don't like it. Some Union students were being ridiculous, stupid and completely unnecessary. I really enjoyed the app when I first got it, but eventually I just deleted it.
Yik Yak may have some positive potential to it. However, it needs to mature first. For now, we have seen the clear results in the dehumanization of our own.
Stay classy, Union College.
Abner is a sophomore studying theology.