There has been a lot of talk about Yik Yak at ACU since it’s grown in popularity, as well as some fairly adamant comments about whether “yaks” should be featured in the Optimist.
Some feel that the yaks can be mean and because the Optimist is publishing a few yaks a week, they are endorsing and encouraging this type of hateful and immature behavior. This is a classic exhibition of platform prejudice. People say terrible things on Twitter all the time, yet tweets are continually printed in the paper. Just because a few people write some hurtful messages does not mean the entirety of the app is corrupt and evil. The same type of filth that occurs on Yik Yak occurs on nearly every other form of social media.
If you look at many of the recent Yaks, there is actually a surprising amount of uplifting and serious comments. That being said, there is still a good amount of unpleasant Yaks, but with the Optimist limiting the number they print and picking out only the clean humorous ones, they are raising the standard. It in turn encourages the ACU users of the app to strive for creating clean, funny, and original Yaks. Because if a Yak is in any way degrading or inappropriate, it has no chance of ever being featured.
Still, others complain that yaks have no credibility because there is no identity associated with them. They argue it’s not true journalism or reporting if something like a yak or a comic or a tweet gets put into the OPINION page. This is absolutely absurd. Not everything that gets put into newspapers are scholarly articles backed up with a work-cited page (hello Garfield).
Finally I would like to address how the anonymity of Yik Yak users is affecting students. First and foremost, if you are unhappy with some of the things being said on there, YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE THE APP. There is no personal account or email associated with it, so you will never receive a notification of any kind for anything being said on there. So no app, no problem.
Secondly, some people believe that the site will cause friction amongst students on campus. The app is anonymous. You can’t be mad at someone you don’t know (well technically you can, but you know what I mean). This is the equivalent of getting upset at some total stranger who made a stupid comment on your YouTube video. You don’t know them and you will never see them which makes it a waste of your time and energy to even dignify that person with another thought. That comment has absolutely no effect on your life in any way so it’s not worth even thinking about, much less getting upset over.
I believe that even in all the ways users abuse the anonymity feature, there is beauty to it as well. Since there is no username of any kind, everyone is on the same playing field. This is completely and utterly a bias-free zone. Anyone is able to come up with something funny or original and become a star on Yik Yak. All other social media sites have your face and name tied to it, which causes skewed appreciation for truly creative ideas. For example, I cannot hope to compete for recognition against a beautifulpresident of some girl’s social club or attention on a status, photo or idea I create on other sites, but Yik Yak is a place for those of us who seek unbiased admiration for exceptional ideas. And I believe that is something worth encouraging.
Ramsey Towell is a senior computer science major from Abilene.