Fads come and fads go. They usually don’t stick around for too long. Angry Birds, Temple Run, Flappy Bird, Farmville and Candy Crush have all lived through their fifteen minutes of fame before fading into oblivion. Sure, fads are short lived and superficial. It’s true they take away from time that would probably be better spent doing literally anything else, and your friends will most likely make fun of you for being so mainstream (until they also get sucked into the whirlpool tsunami that is Candy Crush, I mean have you not played that game? You don’t understand until you play it). But despite all of these obvious imperfections, we have to hand them one thing: fads are hella fun while they last and Yik Yak, has quickly become one such fad.
Yik Yak is the latest addition to the arsenal of social apps on student smartphones. Launched in 2013, it is a kind of anonymous Twitter. Its success has everything to do with location, location, location. The basic idea is users can post whatever they’re thinking or have observed, posts are anonymous and only other users within a 10-mile radius can see these posts and up or down vote them. The more active you are on the app: regularly posting, frequently voting, and receiving up votes the higher your “yakarma” will be. The more down votes you have on posts the lower your yakarma will be. There is a common belief that a high yakarma score is associated with a low GPA.
What the 23-year-old creators of Yik Yak, Brooks Buffington (with a name like that it has to be good) and Tyler Droll, hoped to create was an easy, anonymous way for college students to share thoughts and ideas that only their fellow college students could read and relate to. These remarks are supposed to be witty, relevant, and above all, entertaining. Of course, as is the case with all social media, Yik Yak is not perfect. As with any outlet that allows young people to share their ideas, there are the immature and petty comments. In fact these inane remarks have proven to be quite a problem across the country
(especially in high schools where we all know the less developed frontal cortexes of that population lead to some real stupid stuff). Down voted by soccer moms hopped up on Dunkin’ lattes as “the latest tool in cyber bullying,” Yik Yak has come under some serious fire.
Buffington and Droll both support their work by reminding the public that Yik Yak is meant for college students (aka those infinitely more mature and worldly than the underdeveloped Neanderthals that are high schoolers). A lot of work has been done to block Yik Yak from high school campuses, and many students have been arrested for posting death threats, or bullying through the app.
In their defense Yik Yak does work surprisingly well on college campuses and Stony Brook is no exception. Here are a few gems pulled from Stony Brook’s “All-time greatest yaks section.” I wish I could give these good people credit, but the anonymity thing makes that kind of impossible.
“A black freshman asked me if there’s a colored printer in the library. Dude, it’s 2014 you can use whatever printer you want.”
“Asserting dominance over my roommate by only referring to him as his ID number.”
“A white girl saw her shadow today, which means six more weeks of pumpkin spice lattes.”
“Fire in the math building they must have tried dividing by zero.”
“Can something other than wolfie-net secure go down on me?”
Of course not every yak can be as genius as these, and at night you might catch a glimpse of the dark side of Stony Brook’s Yik Yak; poor thirsty people begging for company, a blowjob or just telling the whole world how depressed and sad they are because they have no friends. It’s not a pretty site—in fact I would advise avoiding Yik Yak altogether between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. You will thank me later.
Despite these minor faults, Yik Yak is altogether a good download. It will entertain you during those boring lectures and add to your reserve of procrastination tools. It’s a cool idea, even if it is a fad. So come with us to the dark side, and join the Yakkers.