Some students are using Yik Yak to talk trash

Brittany Hayes, Web Editor

Yik Yak, an anonymous posting application, is causing a lot of yakking on campus, and much of it is downright mean.

Senior communications major Mary Bove said students sometimes make extremely specific posts, and it is not difficult to figure out who the yaks are about.

“I always see people being like, ‘Oh, this bae in front of me can get it,’ or ‘This girl looks so ugly in that sweater.’ It’s usually in a classroom and sometimes it’s very explicit. They are like, ’Girl in Western Civ, with the pink hoodie and blue shoes on can get it’ or ‘Girl in Spanish class, second row, third seat in.’ They are so specific with their yaks even if they don’t use names. You shouldn’t say something on there that would wouldn’t say to someone in person.”

Gary Samuels, Coordinator of Student Affairs, said what he has seen on the app makes him worried about the way students often treat each other.

“I have concerns about the way people treat each other because I’ve seen some really nasty comments on [Yik Yak] directed at specific individuals. Maybe they aren’t using a name, but they are using key words and phrases so if that person looked at it, they could pick up that that’s who they are talking about.”

Samuels said while he doesn’t track the site, he has checked it to see what students were posting.

“I have gone on there to check out what our students are saying, but I wouldn’t say I monitor it for anything specific. Last year, I had first heard about it but most of our students hadn’t caught on to it yet. This year’s first year class I think brought it with them from maybe their high schools.”

Samuels said the app was intended to be a tool to connect people located relatively near to one another, and it does that, but Bove said it also serves as an outlet for students who feel the need to vent their hostilities.

“People love talking [trash],” Bove said. ” That’s why it’s so popular. They think there are no repercussions for what they are saying.”

Bove, who uses the app, said the nature of the posts varies, but those who use it to insult or hurt others may be surprised to discover that anonymous Yaks may not be anonymous at all.

“Some are hilarious. Some are ridiculous. Some are really insulting. People need to watch what they post on the internet because even though it says anonymous, it can still be traced back to you if people really need to. There are tech people who can do it. I know people here, professors and higher ups track it.”

Samuels believes posts on apps like Yik Yak can be very damaging to  students’ sense of self-worth.

“I think we are in a really tough age right now between Facebook, Twitter, Yik Yak, and every other medium out there. It’s really, really, tough. I think people are at a vulnerable time in college because you are still discovering who you are. Some people don’t know who they are yet. They don’t know what they want to do. Maybe they are still questioning that in terms of someone’s sexuality or gender preference, or pronoun that they want to be called. It’s all a time where people are figuring that out so if they are being attacked at that level of their own self-identification it makes it really tough for them to have confidence in themselves.”

Bove said she often uses the app to defend others.

“People say some really nasty stuff on there. They trash different departments. Oh yeah, I’m going to go on there to defend some things. I’m just like, are you people idiots? Why would you put that on there?”

Bove also believes it is good that some officials are actively on the site because if there ever was a serious emergency, they would be able to get a student help.

“I’ve seen people post on there about being depressed, how they hate themselves, and that’s serious stuff. If there are resources to find out who posted that, if they think they are in danger, then that is a good thing.”

Samuels said he occasionally receives reports from resident advisers about some of the negative comments posted on Yik Yak.

“The RA’s do look at it because I do get reports about something that was said on Yik Yak. Those are hard to act on because unless it’s a specific threat as a university we can’t really intervene. We can just teach people how to use it appropriately, how to report something if they see something that should not be on there.”

Bove thinks students should think about how a Yak might severely hurt another student.

“I don’t remember it exactly, but somebody said something along the lines of go kill yourself. That irritates me to no end. I actually Yakked about this, and I will say it because anything that I Yak I will say to someone’s face, but I said I’m getting real sick and tired of people telling people to go kill themselves. If somebody said that to one of your family members and they listened, wouldn’t you be mad at that person? Maybe that person has heard it five other times before, and they are thinking, maybe I should kill myself since six people told me to.”

Bove believes that with or without the application, students will always talk negatively about other students or professors.

“People are going to talk no matter what. This just gives them a platform. It doesn’t hurt or do good for the campus because it’s going to go on either way, but just behind closed doors.”

Samuels hopes students will begin to use the app more appropriately and maybe even use it to spread positive messages.

“Maybe not use the app. The more people use it, the more people are likely to post to it or like and up things and everything that goes along with the app itself. Suddenly, if we see no one using it then it dies on the vine. Try to spread positivity through it. Some colleges are trying to spread that positivity on there rather than all of the negativity.”