Yikked a Yak: alternate verb form
When choosing Furman, I was excited about the prospect of a small school. I figured that a small school meant close community. Little did I know that within days of arriving on campus, I would be introduced to Yik Yak, an anonymous platform that lets you see posts within a confined area. While Yik Yak is used on many college campuses, I believe it takes on a special role at Furman because it has the capacity to connect the whole student body, as its 5-mile coverage effectively covers all of campus.
For me, Yik Yak soon became a regularly used app. Why? First, because it is a source of entertainment much like any other social media. People often share their funny thoughts and opinions, and the added aspect of anonymity makes people that much more comfortable in making extreme or hyperbolized comments. One of my favorites I saw a few days ago said, "have slept 12 hours total in 3 days. In unrelated news, I can taste sounds."
One thing I find fascinating about Yik Yak is how one person will say something, whether it be a joke or general remark, and then others will quickly turn it into a hot topic of conversation. For example, the other day someone yakked in "Shakespearean English." The next hour consisted of people writing their own thoughts in the same manner. The ripple effect Yik Yak creates, turning one yak into something bigger, can easily generate campus-wide conversation.
Yik Yak's recent return (it was banned in 2017 for bullying controversies) created a great outlet for Furman students. It not only provides a platform for humor but creates camaraderie between students. People can talk about their struggles, ask questions about things like the confusing library and dining hall hours, or simply share relatable experiences. There is a true sense of support Yik Yak creates, as everyone is experiencing and can relate to college life at Furman. Students can also voice their concerns without fear of retribution, which is valuable, particularly in a school setting. Whether it brings up issues with housing, certain classes, or even administration, Yik Yak is an open forum.
As we know, with great power comes great responsibility, and this app can have its fair share of consequences as well. People sometimes take jokes too far or use the anonymous platform to cyberbully people–the reason for which it was shut down in the first place. To complicate matters, Yik Yak recently introduced a new "direct message" feature where people can chat privately. On the one hand, this feature expands the opportunity for students to form relationships, and the block feature can be used when conversations go awry.
However, it could also be a catalyst for further harassment and even sexual situations. Amidst the regular comments, we have all seen those random, explicit YikYaks where people seem to be confusing the platform for a dating app. While that may not have initially seemed like a problem, the DM feature adds a weird hookup aspect that takes away from the better purposes of the app. When you see someone asking for a tall blond guy right above a comment where someone is asking for advice on how to deal with a difficult situation, the wholesome and relatable atmosphere of Yik Yak is lost.
Yik Yak is and has the potential to be so many different things. This means we have to ask ourselves what we want the app to look like, and strive to make it fit our vision. I believe that as long as the app stays an environment free of controversy and people saying things uncomfortably out-of-pocket, it can continue to be a blessing to Furman's campus.