It’s no question that Yik Yak is an entertaining app to be on.
Even I can see the appeal even despite the uncomfortableness that comes with the inevitable ‘calling out’ of people behind a screen.
Locally, students can post on the app when Chapel starts and the person preaching says something funny or controversial. Or they can post when a significant issue happens on social media.
However, despite the appeal, Yik Yak brings toxicity to campuses including this one.
Yik Yak made its grand return in 2021 after it was taken down in 2017 when parents, teachers and college administration pushed for the app’s termination.
Since then, ACU students have started “yakking” the good, the bad and the ugly on campus.
The app mostly becomes toxic to college campuses when social controversies and manipulation of the truths begin. Students can post expressing their opinion about the newest Greek Life change or SGA vote without thinking about the negativity that can come across and hurt the people that established those changes. Adding another layer of tension, these posts can be from your friend or roommate creating more room for problem to solve.
Yik Yak also poses a threat to both women and men, people can post comments on how people dress or physically look, which can promote stalking tendencies and be harmful.
It’s easy for people to look at these anonymous posts and take a punch to your confidence. On top of the inappropriate jokes, there seems to be a sense of normality to posting details about a person’s mental health.
Combining this anonymous app with posting of dire cries for help and a shortage of access to mental health care on campus can take a dangerous toll.
So what do we do about it all? Delete the app.
This can come at a cost to some, having friends around you with the app who don’t understand the toxicity of the app can lead to peer pressure that you need to be on Yik Yak for the ‘harmless jokes.’
Outside of deleting the app entirely, I believe the first step is education. We should focus on educating people about mental health and when to spot that someone is in need of help as well as educating people on the social implications of so-called ‘harmless jokes.’ As a campus, we must understand the signs on when to reach out to someone, to care for other people and understand where the line is being crossed.
The moral of the story, while the anonymous joke posting of a person on campus doing something ‘weird,’ may seem harmless to you, it was never harmless to them.