Correcting Social Media with Yak-Backs

By Tyler Cohen, Contributing Writer II

The emergence of social media in the early 2000s is one of several technological advances that distinguish us Millennials from Generation X. I was in sixth grade when I made my MySpace page, and I created my Facebook profile my freshman year of high school.

This is to say, amidst the already awkward and confusing new challenges that emerge with puberty, we were the first generation of teenagers that had to form an online identity to match our human identity.

Fast-forward ten years. We are now college-aged Millennials that are blessed with a new crowned-jewel within the treasure chest known as the App Store: Yik Yak.

It’s fresh, it’s free, but, while perhaps inwardly liberating, this infamous app is without question an extremely destructive force on campus.

One of the most appealing characteristics that drew me to F&M was its size: a small liberal arts college with a celebrated and historic name. We all know that when you enroll in a course here you aren’t a number, but a member of your class. This school is cozy and tight-knit, which is good, but with a student body under 2,400, rumors can spread like a wildfire.

Yik Yak has accelerated this process to the point where it’s borderline dangerous. I’m happy that it wasn’t invented until my junior year, because if I read the overwhelming feed of mostly negative Yaks we see now, it would’ve made me question if I came to the right school.

My concern is for the first-year students who don’t fully understand the nature of campus life. Yik Yak is riddled with slander, false stigmas, and horribly inappropriate gossip spread by grumpy students who don’t have the courage to speak their minds without hiding behind an anonymous app.

To counter this cowardly disservice spreading hate across our campus community, I have taken the liberty of responding to some of these unsettling yaks in my own voice and name. Just remember I picked the more noteworthy yaks.

“This research paper is not happening.” – 11 upvotes

Re: I don’t think the paper is the problem…Turn your phone off.

“Prospective student: From Yik Yak what I’ve learned about F&M is that you have shitty wifi and you all hate that one frat…”

Re: If you ask a tour guide, they will tell you the opposite. I suggest you listen to the tour guide.

“I’m at the point where getting hit by a car sounds like the easy way out.”

Re: When the going gets tough, call counseling services. They have free candy.

“This awful wifi is killing the vibe of this beautiful day.” –15 upvotes

Re: I couldn’t agree more, let’s go do something outside. #WinterIsComing

“I think townies have figured out how to hijack our shuttles… I’m concerned.” –26 upvotes

Re: Ok, that is definitely concerning and you should report that to Public Safety ASAP.

“I heard Chi Phi made their pledges beat up a homeless man. I can’t believe our Greek system tolerates this atrocious behavior.” – 9 upvotes

Re: I’m glad you can’t believe it, because that is absolutely ludicrous. I shouldn’t have to say this, but abusing the homeless has nothing to do with brotherhood. Maybe you should bring this up with a brother before spreading unfounded rumors anonymously on a public feed.

“Is Yik Yak dead tonight or is it just me?” – 3 upvotes

Re: Yik Yak is not alive, so yes, it’s dead. You should try interacting with other living things, you’d be surprised how much you have in common.”

“Get off of Yik Yak and come to the College Center for Shamrock the Stage -KD ” – 3 downvotes

Re: The fact that this yak was down-voted is a good example of why I berate anonymous Yik Yak enthusiasts.

“Dear sweaty frat guy, you don’t know how to dougie. Just letting you know you should stop embarrassing yourself.” –17 upvotes

Re: I’m sorry about being sweaty, there are worse things to be in this world — and is my dougie really that bad? I hope it didn’t offend you. Next time you can teach me how to dougie properly.

“I AM GOING TO FIND ****** **** AND ******* PUNCH *** IN THE **** WITHOUT RESERVATION. I SWEAR TO GOD.”  –0 upvotes/downvotes

Re: Ok, clearly you’re very upset. I’m going to make an exception and recommend that you do not handle this directly. Unleash all of your rage on Yik Yak, drink some warm milk, think some happy thoughts, and go to sleep. Even your fellow yakers are afraid of you right now.

“Will close & then reopen Yik Yak to see my Yakarma increase by a few points. Cheap thrills are what I live for.” – 10 upvotes

Re: Where’s the thrill if there’s no risk involved? If you have something bold to say, own it. Maybe try Twitter? I’ve heard good things about Tumblr as well.

“All the rumors are true, but then again, that’s probably just be a rumor.” – 12 upvotes

Re: Well put.

See what I mean? Yik Yak is an endless stream of unfortunate blurbs of impulse that leave bitter vibes that just doesn’t reflect the reality of being an F&M student. This is a problem that should be taken seriously.

I want to end this piece saying I do recognize that without Yik Yak rumors still spread, students still get frustrated, and because this is a small school, when you say something controversial out in the open, it can affect your reputation for better or for worse.

We are pioneers in this new age of bilateral identities. We have to be aware of how we present ourselves as students in a classroom and as friends at a party — but with social media profiles and localized gossip feeds, first impressions often start with a click instead of a handshake.

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