A stupid freshman’s take on Yik Yak

An insensitive alternative take on cyberbullying


Yik Yak has taken the student body by storm. Photo by Stefanie Chiguluri, ’24.

Hyatt Sbar

I thought long and hard as to whether I should even describe the app that has taken the university student body by storm. “I mean, everyone knows about it already, right?” Then I remembered 90% of the student body has never touched a newspaper, much less read an article in one. Next, I thought- “wait, who is even going to read this. What is my target audience?” Then I remembered that a solid 90% of people reading out of a print newspaper probably don’t even know what the app store is, which is why I have ultimately decided to explain. 

  Yik Yak is a message board that automatically connects you to anyone within a five mile radius. You post anything your heart desires, and anyone within the five mile radius can scroll through the app and see what their classmates are thinking, feeling, or in the best cases, making fun of. 

If you think something is funny, you upvote it, which causes it to rise above the other “Yaks” on the board. If you don’t like the message before you, you downvote it. And similar to a pseudo-intellectual Black Mirror episode that everyone pretends has some deeper meaning, the people of our community decide what rises to the top of the message board and what sinks. 

This seems basic, and honestly, just like Twitter. However, one key facet of Yik Yak, besides the really stupid name, is the fact that it is anonymous. 

          Yes, I started a new paragraph to let that sink in and yes, you did read that correctly. 100%  anonymous. Anonymous opinions that one can agree with or disagree with. Upvote or downvote. Perfect, honest, public opinions.

            So what do 2,000 18- to 22-year-old men and women in a college town the size of four square miles do for fun? Well, besides abusing alcohol on a hill stupidly dubbed “Windfall” and studying for eight hours a day, they make fun of themselves, their friends, and even people they don’t like through the beautiful, extremely anonymous, and horribly designed Yik Yak. 

         There are three types of Yaks. Greek life slander, public opinion veiled in comedy, and personal degradation, in which an actual name is said. The last one is by far the funniest if you know the person the Yik Yak is referring to. Before I tell you all my comedic approach to bullying, I would like to share a few of my personal favorite Yik Yaks from each category. 

First up, we have the Greek life slander:

“Opened up my acceptance letter in high school and a Sigma Chi early bid fell out.” -Anonymous Yik Yak user 

“I overhead the following conversation at KA house- ‘I know there are no girls here, but did you know we are the alpha chapter’”- Anonymous Yik Yak user

 Next, we have the actual public opinions covered in a thick layer of jest:

  “The salad bar lady in Dhall has murder in her eyes. She could take McGregor in two rounds.” -Anonymous Yik Yak user

  “80,000 dollars in tuition and we can’t get [CENSORED] soft toilet paper? What in the [CENSORED] [CENSORED] [CENSORED]. I wish I could [CENSORED] [CENSORED] [CENSORED] the entire [CENSORED] administration.” – An extremely upset and still anonymous Yik Yak user 

  And lastly, my personal favorite, the Yik Yaks that put individuals on blast for various reasons. My own cousin Ramsay Trask, ’24, was the victim of these personalized attacks. It was hilarious. 

“”Someone tell that girl Ramsay to stop dressing like a colonial midwife and wearing a backpack 3x her size” – Hyatt Sbar I mean, Anonymous Yik Yak user 

  “Upvote if Gabriel Stulce has flirted with you or someone you know” – Anonymous Yik Yak user (I upvoted this one because Stulce took me on a dinner date to discuss potentially joining his fraternity and it became mildly romantic.) 

  There are some who look at Yik Yak as nothing but a breeding ground for cyberbullying, and they have a point to some degree. However, Marcus Aurelius said it best in his book, Meditations- “Anonymity in anger can never be dishonest.”

Like a student-led, cyberbully police force, Yik Yak keeps us in check. The app has facilitated some of the greatest intellectual freedom the university has ever seen. 

Among the hilarity are Yik Yaks that, although slightly rude, communicate tips from upperclassmen to us lowlife Frosh. For example, many have taken to Yik Yak to ridicule those that are reluctant to uphold the speaking tradition, people wearing gold chains on the outside of their shirts, and the freshman that drank the mystery liquor (known fondly as PPD) out of a trash can at Kwan. These are all things Frosh like myself need to know. 

The free enterprise system of receiving upvotes from your classmates regardless of graduating class, gender, or fraternity/sorority is beautiful. Although the Yaks are playfully (and sometimes grotesquely) inappropriate, the university could do a lot of good if they paid attention to and maybe heeded the many voices of Yik Yak that make up our amazingly diverse student body.

 And honestly? I am not sorry to Ramsay. It was really funny.