The phenomenon that I, a first year college student, incorporated into my daily, or more realistically hourly routine: Yik Yak.
Yik Yak is an app that uses your location to show Yaks within a one and a half mile radius. Yaks are anonymous posts people can make that can include text, pictures, and emojis. The app’s main consumers are college students, with an age requirement of seventeen and up. I think of it as an anonymous Twitter for the community in and around your college. Unlike Twitter, Yik Yak doesn’t count the amount of tweets you make. Instead, Yik Yak gives you Yakarma.
You can increase your Yakarma every time you Yak, give thumbs up or down on a post, receive a thumbs up or down on your own posts, and commenting on posts. The thumbs system allows for inappropriate posts to be deleted and favorable ones to become famous. When a post or comment gets five thumbs down it is automatically deleted. When posts get thumbs up, they can become famous and be placed in the “hot” tab on the app. This tab displays the Yaks from the highest number of thumbs to the lowest.
I think the appeal of the app comes from the insight students can relate to and its anonymity. I went on Yik Yak for one hour and took screenshots of every Yak that was specified to Hofstra students.
These Yaks can’t be understood by anyone who doesn’t attend the University. It makes the platform familiar and exclusive which is attractive to students. In a campus of about 12,000 undergraduate students, there’s always someone posting within minutes during the day. Yik Yak took our most common connection and gave us a safe place to give our inputs. You can set your college with “My Heard” and be able to keep up with what’s going on, on campus when you’re away. You can only do this once. You can even use “Peek” and see what other campuses are Yaking about. This allows users to experience a glimpse of the cultural and social interactions without actually being there.
The app doesn’t require an email or user name. It only needs your phone number for verification, which makes sense since you can only access it through a mobile device. The app randomizes icons and colors each time you comment on a post, so your identiy is protected. The original author gets a green “OP” icon to indicate their comment, but other than that, you’re anonymous. People use the app to vent out their feelings, seek advice, compliment specific people, find dates, promote parties, and all the college life spectacle without the backlash of judgement being tied to them.
I think that Yik Yak has dominated the college scene. It was launched about two years ago, and today there are over a thousand colleges and universities, both national and international using the app. It has become a part of the college experience. My friends and I use Yik Yak as our topic of conversation over any other media. There is so much diversity here; no one really knows your life back home, so Yik Yak gives you the mutual ground to converse on.
There has controversy surrounding the app. Although, the app is intended for college students, like all things exclusive, people want to join in. Underage users have caused the app to be criticized. There have been many cases of bullying and harassment on the app. I personally think that this like all things is Tragedy of the Commons. People will use and abuse things. There is freedom of expression, and not every idea will be accepted by everyone. Yik Yak has taken steps to try to avoid attack on people with deleting posts with thumbs down and adding an age limit. I am definitely a fan of Yik Yak. I’ve learned so much about Hofstra, its lingo, and culture from it. Yik Yak will continue to be a part of our popular culture for as long as we are here in college.