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Commentary: Yik Yak and its consequences

On a Sunday night, one of my close friends had asked me if I remembered or heard of Yik Yak, to which I answered “no” and asked them what it was. It was that night that I had taken a deep dive into the addiction hole of Yik Yak, which leads me to consider myself somewhat of a Yakspert (Yik Yak expert.)

If you haven’t heard, Yik Yak has reanimated and found itself rampaging through Drake. Some students are in favor of it, some can’t even download it, and from what it seems, faculty and administration reach for a bottle of ibuprofen when the “Yak” is mentioned. For Android users, or those unaware, Yik Yak functions very closely to an “anonymous” Twitter. The only thing you have to identify yourself is an assigned emoji with a colored background, that can be changed at any time. The original poster (OP) makes a post and sends it out to the herd, which is anyone within a five-mile radius of your location, and then other users in the five-mile radius can read, comment, upvote, or downvote it. Retweeting and liking the yak are combined in the upvote button and the more upvotes the yak gets, the more yakarma the OP gets. I have no clue what Yakarma does other than measure my addiction to the app. The real kicker is the downvote button; once a yak gets five downvotes, it is removed.

Now, you might be thinking that Yik Yak sounds like a fun place to speak your mind or that it’s a fertile breeding ground for chaos, and the answer to both of those is, yes it is. Giving a bunch of “young adults” an anonymous app that takes three seconds to send anything and everything that comes from their brain, and then allowing them to interact with each other on it in comments is the recipe for creating an environment that’s decently close to the meme with the dog sitting at the coffee table saying “this is fine.” Drake Yik Yak has been used so much in the few months that it has lore, and if you don’t know what lore is, ask urban dictionary. The lore has gone from Andrew Garfield being on campus to name-dropping Drake students and faculty.

The thing that keeps Drake faculty and administration in a constant state of headache is the negative elements of the app. Name dropping of students with misinformation, the rumors of ALL the places students may or may not have engaged in sexual activities on campus, and flat out lies about the university and faculty are only a few of the incidents that I’ve caught in my time on the app. People don’t think that the things they yak have real-life effects (and if they know, they just don’t care) and it could end up hurting fellow app users. I know that I, for one, have noticed that I can get quite aggressive when my name isn’t attached to the words I’m typing. People can hate on an emoji that has the same ideas as me without hating me, Liv, the person. It’s a perpetual hell of everyone on the app simultaneously hating and liking everything. Yik Yak also satisfies a craving to be agreed with and liked by a crowd of people. Even if one of your yaks got downvoted enough to be removed, another might have 37 upvotes, and no one has any clue that it’s you who created both.

Yik Yak content isn’t always negative and chaotic, sometimes it can be useful. Someone yaks the weather every morning, people ask questions on Yik Yak they may be too shy to ask with their name attached to it and for the most part get good answers to it, and another user yaks the Wordle answers in emojis. The few good things that come from Yik Yak are enough to keep some people, but I personally stay for, and I’ll admit, create (a very small amount of) chaos. It’s fun to read some of the otherworldly rumors of Drake Yak, and it’s even more fun to imagine the administration reading it. Don’t get me wrong, some of the name dropping and professor dissing is a little too far, but you can’t help but laugh when you read, “Is Howard even a real building here on campus? I feel like it’s as real as Marty Martin.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Yik Yak continues to work its way into Drake culture in its time. Is it just one short resurgence, or is it here to stay? How many other people will download it because their friends asked if they had yet and fall down the addiction hole like myself? Will there be any changes in the way Drake is run because of the complaints of the students on the Yak? I suppose only time will tell.


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