I would like to say I deleted the Yik Yak app off my phone for political or social reasons. I would like to say that it was a response to me realizing how detrimental the app was to my well-being and mental health. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I simply had not clicked that little yak head icon in months, and I desperately needed to clear up space on my phone. So, along with apps like 2048 and WordBrain, Yik Yak was moved to the “not on this iPhone” section in my iCloud.
I will admit that after about a month of not having Yik Yak, I do miss it sometimes. Because people are so candid when they do not have to sign their names, Yik Yak is flooded with information about virtually everything. I will never forget the time my little student fellow heart swelled because someone expressed their love for Joss House team. I cannot replace the convenience of always having a place to check whether the Deece is good on a particular day or if the Mug is bumpin’ (the answer is usually no). I will probably always feel a little left out of conversations that start with, “so who saw that yak…?” Yet, I do not miss it enough to re-download.
Anonymity, however, can be very dangerous in hormonal, angsty campuses like ours. With the campus’s incredible amounts of emotions, Vassar’s Yik Yak is filled with ‘brave’ anonymous users sharing their thoughts about everything from political issues to how much they needed to “cuddle and watch Netflix.” Thus, many Yaks can evoke either extremely positive or extremely negative responses, and unlike on larger campuses, they generally stay long enough to be talked about.
When I look back at my year with Yik Yak, I remember most distinctly how gross it made me feel. I remember exact times when I saw posts that made me shake with anger or need to take the rest of the night off to just be sad. I just could not deal with the people who insisted on exploiting their peers for upvotes or actively speaking up on opinions that are just way too problematic for me to read.
Users (some, definitely not all) hide behind anonymity to call out their classmates for their varied identities and life experiences. They comment angrily about how people they may not even know are dealing with their lives. They sometimes even pretend to be people they aren’t to stir the pot. They hurt others with virtually no repercussions besides a slight decrease in Yakarma. Although I was not oblivious to how screwed up this was, I kept refreshing my feed without a second thought.
Beyond that, I realized how much Yik Yak increased my thirst and need for validation. The whole upvote/downvote situation affected me way more than I am okay with. In fact, I think my mind still blanks out my extremely unsuccessful Yaks and replies because I am too embarrassed to own up to them. I am too embarrassed to admit to myself that I could feel a way or have a thought that people either could not identify with or actively hated.
Despite this grossness, I still felt the need to Yak about the feelings I had. I even began to ask, “is this Yak-able?” after certain thoughts. Last year during an exam, my professor wrote on the board that we were all getting an extra 15 “holiday bonus points” because he saw most of us silently crying into our papers. Unfortunately, these points don’t help much when you are certain none of your answers are even remotely close to correct. My exact thought was, “I guess after that 15 point bonus, I will have a 15 on that exam”. I found that thought pretty amusing, so I Yak-ed it (or something very similar to it).
Though not the wittiest nor most successful Yak, this one stuck out with me. How is it possible that when I was in such a high-stress, timed situation, I kept thinking about what I was going to Yak? Why was I so concerned about how many upvotes I was going to get? I did not get that many, but that’s irrelevant. The fact that I got that far into a social media app baffles me. I’m not sure if that says something about me or Yik Yak. Probably me, but I like to blame Yik Yak.
I am not sure how I feel about the platform as a whole and for other people, but I know that it is simply not the app for me. For now, I am happy hearing about the interesting and/or hilarious Yaks from my friends and keeping myself at a safe distance. Maybe one day I will download it again, but at the moment, we are on a break.