Hot Topic: Cancel Yik Yak 

I didn’t even have to go outside to hear about the increase in COVID-19 cases earlier this semester, the Jug re-opening, or what was going on in the freshman dorms. I had Yik Yak. In a time where we’re constantly hungry for new technology, the app Yik Yak has gained fame on college campuses not only as a community bulletin board but also as an online diary for millennials. 

Yik Yak first made its way into my life in middle school, where many other individuals and I realized that middle schoolers aren’t mature enough to use the anonymous app. I witnessed first-hand how much cyber-bullying and anonymous threats occur on that app. Even as kids, we realized it was a bad idea. With the drama and fighting that came out of Yik Yak, even from such a young age, I was aware of the implications that came from it. 

The app’s popularity soon died off, not coming back into my life until August of 2021, shortly after new owners bought the application following its shut down in 2017 due to what the then-leadership called low engagement, according to NPR. We are now using Yik Yak as college students, and the hate and bullying have only increased exponentially. Despite how many of the posts only bully other students and facilitate racism, sexism, and homophobia, I’ve single-handedly seen how many students use this app to find out information about the day and night and what’s gossip at Colgate. 

Many students don’t realize how much harm this app does and can do on a college campus. Especially amid a pandemic, when the app is a place where students deal with anxiety surrounding COVID-19, in-person classes and being away from home, the harm is only exacerbated. Coming back to school for me was a huge deal. I was home with my family for several months with no in-person contact with my friends. Then, I jumped back into college life, surrounded by all my friends all the time. Because people could not physically socialize with others, Yik Yak has become a new place for them to communicate and talk positively and negatively. 

I downloaded the app and began reading. At first, it was addicting and interesting, but then I slowly realized the harm it does. There were student names posted, people who behind the screen have feelings and emotions and would never want to be posted about, especially on an anonymous social media platform. I even began seeing my friends’ names on it, making it even more personal for me. Colgate itself also struggles with the toxicity and exclusivity of going to such a small school, so when this app was revived, I felt like I was back in middle school.

The anonymous nature of Yik Yak makes it all too easy to cyberbully people with no repercussions. It cultivates an environment that makes many students uncomfortable, especially in a time when they are already dealing with so many other everyday issues. When social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and LinkedIn already consume the school, there is zero need for Yik Yak and the negativity it entails.