Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Victoria Brobst, Staff Writer
“That empty feeling when you finish a show on Netflix…”
Paper Advice: “If you can’t imagine dropping the mic after the last sentence of your paper, your conclusion needed to be stronger.”
“Winter is great. I can wear huge sweaters and nobody has to know if I’m wearing a bra or not.”
These are some of the hottest “Yaks” this week on the Yik Yak Cedar Crest-Muhlenberg feed.
Yik Yak, a free app in which the user can anonymously post, vote, and comment based on college locations, was released in November 2013. It has gained recent popularity amongst young adults. Some refer to it as an “anonymous twitter.”
As described by the iTunes App Store, “Yik Yak acts like a local bulletin board for your area by showing the most recent posts from other users around you. It allows anyone to connect and share information with others without having to know them. Be engaged in your community and help decide what’s the best through upvotes and downvotes.”
Vivianna Samite, a junior at Cedar Crest, heard about the app from field hockey teammates. She has only posted twice but checks it roughly every other night.
“People can say whatever they want,” said Samite. “It’s mostly funny stuff… Cedar Crest shares Muhlenberg College’s feed due to location. Different fraternities at Mulhenberg talk lots about partying, where they are and bash each other. It’s hilarious when Muhlenberg girls get mad at CCC girls on their page.”
Samite likes that it is college-based and believes the immature content would not work on a different setting.
At a different campus, the feelings are similar. Northampton Community College junior Travis Humza discovered the app via a friend visiting home from college. “He read me some of the hottest Yik Yaks of all time, and I was sold,” said Humza.
Humza also uses the app as a cure to boredom. “I sometimes post on Yik Yak whenever I think of something golden but I comment on posts when it relates to me. The content posted on Yik Yak is what I expect from college students who want to be discreet about stuff… inappropriate and sexual humor mostly. I notice patterns especially during the weekends and when sporting events occur.”
The anonymity feature enhances the app and allows for more posts, but it is not an original idea according to communications instructor Jade Abston. Similar apps and websites are Whisper and Secret, but Yik Yak differs because it is location-enabled, meaning it is specific to posts being made locally in the area.
“Anonymity is a big deal when you discuss the internet. The internet is a place where some people want to be able to express themselves freely with no consequences or judgment. As an internet user we often frown upon people who self disclose about their problems and feelings on social media sites and apps. Anonymity allows for people to feel safe with sharing their thoughts and ideas without fearing backlash from friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.,” said Abston.
As Samite and Humza recognized, there is a sort of communication pattern stylized within locations and generally on the app.
Abston explained, “The communication is quick, localized, and inclusive. Because the target demographic is tech-savvy college students, the majority of the content is very specific. It was a very calculated move made by the creators because it spreads by word-of-mouth across campuses.”
Does the app have greater potential?
Yik Yak’s simplistic interface is easy to use and contributes to why so many people have made the download. The content is mostly humorous, however.
“I don’t see it as a useful communication tool just yet,” Abston said. “It is still in the early stages. People using the app don’t share any pressing or useful information just yet. Just like with many other apps over time once it expands the features and functions.”
Sometimes on the Cedar Crest-Muhlenberg feed advertises events such as current plays. However, the downside is that anyone can use it, not just students from the college. There is a potential that if someone’s identity or location is revealed it could be very dangerous.
Often this issue is resolved through the “downvote” feature. After about 5 downvotes, the yak is erased. The majority of college students have enough of an understanding of media literacy to erase offensive or revealing content.
Humza feels he would benefit from a feature that lets users reveal themselves if they want to.
New features that change the anonymity, require an account, or shift the content will perhaps ruin the reason app or change the demographics.