Riding the Yak…
As of late the social media I use the most would have to be Yik Yak. Yik Yak is referred to as the anonymous twitter; people have their own accounts and are able to “yak” about whatever is on their mind. Yik Yak, “focuses solely on the content of your posts,” so whatever yak people find relevant will end up making the hot page; your yaks originality is graded according to your campus users (Watts). It’s easy to sign up and an easier way to stay connected with your campus. Yik Yak is the place to be exactly the person you want to be because no one’s watching you and if they are they’ll never be able to tell who you are.
This app helps to connect the college community. Students can check Yik Yak to learn about events going on around campus, or to learn what everybody’s thinking about while watching the Super Bowl, or even to comment on people we see around campus. You can get a great sense of what your college peers care about. There is an endless range of topic areas people can discuss about. Although Yik Yak is anonymous I use it to communicate with people in my building. For instance, one time it was too noisy down in the lobby and I used Yik Yak to ask the people in my building to quite down without having to directly speak with them or personally offending them. Within five minutes the people saw my yak and quieted down and my other house mates also used Yik Yak to thank them for this. The fun part about this app is that you can comment on a persons yak and you won’t ever know who the person is and vise versa. With the recent update when you comment on a person’s yak an icon shows up to identify you on that yak so you are able to know who you are talking to even if you don’t know their names; the icons change for each yak you comment under so you are still perfectly anonymous. It’s just like a secret campus Tumblr that everybody knows about.
Yik Yak is a great stress reliever. You can vent about a roommate or a teacher and not have to worry about them finding out and if they use the app they won’t be sure if it’s you. You can get advice from people who went through the same thing and get community support/symaphty. For example on a recent yak I complained about how my roommate always forgets to turn off the light. People replied to my yak and said: “my roommate does the same thing too! so annoying!” “Man that sucks, sorry” and “Try telling her that it bothers you!” With those three simple comments I was able to get so much. With the first comment I see that I am not alone and other people’s roommates don’t turn off their lights which provides me with a sense of comfort. The second comment provided me with sympathy and I felt good that someone felt sorry for me because it meant that they also didn’t agree with my roommate. The third comment gave me good advice on how to fix my problem with my roommate. Since Yik Yak is only zoned to people on campus you will be getting peer responses rather than comments and advice from grandparents who might not know how to deal with or understand what ever it is we are venting about.
The fact that people can say whatever they want on the app can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending. It’s good for people to promote their events and clubs on campus so they can get the word out and in turn may receive more of a turnout. However whenever a person posts about a club or event they are attending people can post against it. For example a person may say “I’m going to Dizzy’s tonight!” and another person can comment or post “Dizzy’s sucks! If you go there you’re a loser”. People often share their excitement over yik yak and with that comes the risk of kill joys raining on your parade. Over the weekend Yik Yak displays a number of parties people can attend. People can yak about how great or dull the party is which can change a persons plans for the night. As a result of not knowing who anybody is people have a tendency to yak with no filter. The bigots of the Yik Yak world can be really aggressive and sometimes it can lead to anonymous bullying of others. I once posted that I like the rapper Kanye West on yik yak and somebody commented that he’s stupid and I am too for liking him. I replied “that’s you’re opinion” and the person told me to shut up and if they saw me on the street they would kick me. I wasn’t bothered by this because I don’t even know this person and they don’t know me however it was really annoying. The point is that people can say some pretty extreme stuff on yik yak with no consequences. Expressing your opinion and your events may be positive but there’s always that risk that someone is not going to be happy about it and will say something not to mention they can also down your yak. Although yik yak’s policy is to let the people decide what they like or don’t like through up and down votes having a yak downed so much that it’s voted off of yik yak can be a confidence killer. In addition if anybody says anything that disturbs you, you can report the yak and if enough people report it the yak can get taken down even if it didn’t have the number of down votes to get taken off.
With each yak you can be a different person so there is really no need to create an identity over yik yak. The social media identities that we create for ourselves over Twitter and Instagram don’t apply to Yik Yak because nobody can look up your profile and judge you off of it. The only way to make an identity over yik yak is through your individual yaks. Everyone is going to view each yak you write as a different speaker unless you put a handle. Yik yak helps me be who I want; I yak about everything and anything simply because I can. However there is a downside to creating your own identity over yik yak- the fact that you try to appease your audience. You may start out as being your own person but slowly you start to write yaks that you think your audience (which in this case would be your college peers) will up for one of three reasons: to up your yakarma, feel better about yourself because you received approval by your peers on a yak, or because you have a personal goal of reaching the hot page. Sometimes I change my yaks so I can get more ups on it so I’ll feel socially accepted. It’s ironic that I or anybody else does this because in the end it doesn’t matter what our peers think because the people voting on our yaks are probably strangers; this is the most people value strangers opinions. However it is good that you have a choice to be your uncensored self and you are able to do this freely because nobody knows who you are and nobody’s going to try to find out who you are either. The anonymity factor is a huge pull for Yik Yak users because you no longer have to regulate yourself like you would on Twitter.
Watts was right when he mentioned how useless Yik Yak becomes during breaks. Everyone goes home and you’re not allowed to yak along with your classmates anymore (Watts). Sometimes when I go home I get yik yak sick because yaking isn’t a thing in neighborhoods- just college campuses; when I get on to yak I’ll see that the latest yaks are from days ago so yik yak doesn’t serve a purpose as long as you’re not on a college campus. However with the latest with update of Yik Yak people are now allowed to yak to their college campuses while away; essentially you can take your college community with you through yik yak. The update was made just yesterday so I haven’t had a chance to try it yet off campus however some commuters have logged onto yik yak and commented how great it is they can keep up with campus events and yaks in the comfort of their bedroom.
My writing style on yik yak is basically how I would write out a text message; it’s colloquial. I still use proper English like how I’m writing this blog but I do include acronyms such as “lol” and add in some slang terms. If my yak is too long I do shorten my text by shortening words (for example: text= txt). Most people on yik yak do the same thing as me and if they don’t and make their writing more colloquial with heavy slang people will comment under their post complaining about their lack of grammar and use of slang. I always review my yaks before I post them just to make sure there are no errors. I also review my yaks to make sure it’s just right and is expressing my mood correctly, I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea. On average it’ll take me a second to come up with the idea I want to yak about but it may take me 3–4 minutes to actually decide whether it’s yik yak worthy and if I worded it well enough to get my point across; this also applies to my comments. It really shouldn’t matter what I say or how I say it since everyone is anonymous but there’s still that need to be socially accepted within a group of strangers so I and others actually make an effort.
So the next time you, “ride the yak,” remember that there are no rules involved so go crazy! (but not too crazy) and I guarantee you’ll have a much nicer ride.
By: Bahati Louis