What the Yak?

by Brittany Robb

Two months ago, I told my roommate I was considering making an anonymous Twitter account so I could post the things I actually think without the repercussions of anyone knowing I said it. Then, as if sent from the social media heavens, Yik Yak stormed Simpson College’s student body.

Within the last month, Yik Yak has gone from an advertised application (app) on Facebook news feeds to something applicable to the average Simpson student’s daily life. Passing between classes, students usually whip out a phone to check the usual options: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. In the last few weeks more and more students, and potentially professors and staff members, have been clicking on the little yak’s head to see the nitty gritty thoughts of those in a 10 mile radius.

Yik Yak is an application developed by two college seniors, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, in 2013 when they took a class at Furman University on coding iPhone apps. The two developed the beginning stages of Yik Yak and continued the project after graduating, setting the completed app live in November of 2013.

While Yik Yak was ranked the 20th most downloaded social media app in the United States as of May 2014, the impact of the new social media outlet did not reach Simpson until recently.

Personally, Yik Yak is my current favorite form of social media interaction. I prefer to read anonymous tidbits from a stranger than the same old griping I read on the old same Twitter or Facebook account every day. This way, it’s nearly impossible to know if the person who is bitter about the weather today is the same person who was bitter about it the day before.

Some yaks are not necessary. Being rude or crude on any social media avenue is uncalled for, even when those posting are anonymous. Like any social media site or app, there are those who abuse it and make it a less enjoyable experience for the other users.

It irks me to read constant Greek Life bashing. Insults directed at a specific person just aren’t needed. Yik Yak should be used to bring the Simpson community together, not isolate anyone within our number.

This app could easily be used to further the culture of cyber-bullying, but there is much more to it than the negative sides.

For example, the aforementioned Greek Life bashing has been taking place since the initial popularity of Yik Yak reached Simpson. However, not every post about Greek Life is negative, and the negative posts usually result in a culmination of Greek members of Yik Yak joining together to point out the positives of the programs.

Even with the negative, rude posts, the vast majority of yaks that get posted are funny, informative or positive. People rave about their favorite professors, express their love for their lab partners or brag about their awesome roommates. We, as the Simpson community, should work to keep Yik Yak this way and stray away from the negativity.

Whether you are looking to find somewhere to party this weekend or you just love reading about the people who get to take naps while you’re stuck in class, there’s always something entertaining to be found with the yak.