DANGER: Yik Yak

We’ve all been there: you’re standing in line for Starbucks with just 15 minutes until class and the line is twenty people long. Inevitably, you're bored and you pull out your phone and scroll along until… Yik Yak--that time-consuming, guilty pleasure app. It's like Twitter, but crazier because it comes with the promise that you can yak whatever you want (anonymously) without consequence. Not possibly harmful at all, right?!

Well, in theory, Yik Yak is a cool idea. The concept seemed great at first: take a group of college students, and you can figure out pretty quickly that they love talking about the crazy, juicy, sometimes forbidden things that they’re doing in their lives. Most of these things are definitely not fit for Facebook or Twitter, where your tech-savvy grandmother can check up on you (“You WHAT?! I am so disappointed in you!”) Yik Yak is a place where students can post what they want without fear of getting in trouble or having their friends judge them for their (mis)adventures.

There are a couple flaws to Yik Yak, however.

Unlike other places where you can post your confessions or thoughts anonymously, Yik Yak has no moderator. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve seen the Cal Poly Confessions page by now. At the time this article was written, there were 6,909 confessions posted to the page. I can only imagine the number of posts that weren’t approved to the page due to the inappropriate nature of their content. The moderators make sure to not let anything through that names another person or organization, and there is a distinct lack of bad-mouthing about anyone.

On Yik Yak, people can post whatever they want and it’ll only get taken down if someone flags it. This presents multiple problems: someone’s name could appear or a specific organization could get a lot of hate. Unsurprisingly, once the freshmen moved into San Luis Obispo, Greek life sustained a lot of nasty posts.

The fraternity Zeta Beta Tau has arguably received the most, though they have decreased in number over the past week or two. The sororities on campus all went through various stages of insults as well, where it seemed as if there were one or two people posting their “jokes.” Obviously, one or two people can cause quite a stir. Houses were getting so much hate that I was starting to see the effects on campus: when a new friend found out I was in a sorority, he immediately started treating me differently. He looked at me like I wasn’t worth talking to. It disappointed me that instead of getting to know me, he decided that I was just another one of those sorority girls he’d heard “truths” about.

Here’s a tip: don’t put us all in one category.

Think about it this way: thousands of freshmen moved into San Luis Obispo, and one of the first things they heard about was Yik Yak. These are young adults who haven’t even had a college class yet, much less developed their own impressions of the fraternities, sororities, sports teams and anything else pertaining to campus life. Give them an app where Greek life is getting bashed and they’re being told to beware the dining food, and you now have thousands of new students with skewed perspectives. Not to mention the fact that the urge to check for any new Yaks perpetuates this sense of “always needing to be on our phones.” Look at the trees, talk to your friends, reflect on your day! You don’t need to be staring at a screen 24/7.

Now, if you’re like me and you have yet to get away from Yik Yak completely, it’s not a big deal. But next time you read a post, take it with a grain of salt. And, if you end up posting something, remember to treat people with respect and love. That’s the Mustang Way, after all.