by Liam Brooks
It’s a “totally new way to communicate and connect with people around you,” according to the website. Essentially, it’s Reddit mixed with Twitter. Either way, it’s filled with the thoughts of your favorite friends and strangers.
Yik Yak is a hip new app making the rounds on college campuses. Promising anonymity and a level playing field for content contributors, the app’s feed consists of 200-character-or-fewer posts written and voted upon by other users in a small geographically determined community. For 5C users, this means we can view posts by Mudders and Scrippsies without bearing the brunt of Yale students’ musings. Sorry, not just jokes—anything that people post. (Mostly just jokes.)
The anonymity part is big. While similar services—Reddit, Twitter, Facebook—require anything from a username to a real name, Yik Yak does away with names altogether. While one can opt to add a handle to any of your posts, it’s never required. You don’t even need to make an account—all Yik Yak asks for during installation is your phone number.
That brings us back to the idea of a level playing field. According to co-founder Brooks Buffington, Yik Yak is built around anonymity because “that guy in the back row of your science class might be the funniest guy you never hear.” Unlike Facebook, where statuses may get likes not for what they contain but for the amount of cleavage showing in the users’ profile pictures, Yik Yak claims that posts will be ranked purely on their content.
Of course, that content isn’t always so great. A random sampling of the “hot” posts in my Yik Yak feed yields mostly sex jokes and puns taken from Reddit and 9Gag. The top posts during the heat wave a week ago were about the temperature, air conditioning, blowjobs, or some combination of the three.
However, it’s hard to criticize Yik Yak for the content. After all, the posts are still created by the same people that use other social media. Perhaps its anonymity is actually fostering the truest representation of public opinion. With no offline repercussions for saying what you want to say and “upvoting” what you want to “upvote,” the human condition can be boiled down to its core elements. It’s our damn fault if those elements are supposed to be found in horny 9th graders rather than we (ahem) mature college students.
You know what? There are plenty of reasons to like Yik Yak. It’s an entertaining way to take a quick (or long) break from studying. It’s a place to talk about otherwise awkward things without a filter, and it doesn’t steal and sell too much of your personal information. Plus, its mascot is a freaking yak.