Yakkity Yak. Critique of an app.

January 14, 2015

MET-AJ-YIK-YAK-APP-0307According to the all-knowing, as far as we know, Wikipedia, Yik Yak is ‘an anonymous social media app. It is available for iOS and Android and it allows people to anonymously create and view “Yaks” within a 10 mile radius.[1] It differs from other anonymous sharing apps such as PostSecret and Whisper in that it is intended for sharing primarily with those in close proximity to the user, potentially making it more intimate and relevant for people reading the posts.[2] All users have the ability to contribute to the stream by writing, responding, and liking or disliking yaks.’

For a whole fifteen minutes spent using this app I discovered the usual. It was a quaint, little oubliette for people of all ages to complain that it’s not as bitchin’ as the atmospheres present on their university campus or rave. Advising them to return to their bubbles of ignorance merely served to anger and confuse the dispossessed. Additional discoveries yielded re-enforcement of my opinion that people never emotionally mature passed an 8th grade level.

Giants of media The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CBS took up the banners of the oppressed with stories of cyberbullying, domestic terrorism, and bomb threats. Proving once again that no one can have any fun and no one can just use technology to have fun. In response founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington curtailed downloading of the app to those over the age of seventeen and limited geographical access to outside of school areas. Both morally laudable and technologically futile.

In March of 2014 TIME ran an opinion piece entitled, “Let Kids Run Wild Online”. It put forth the projection of parental fears and the lack of strategies to help navigate the unfamiliar consequences of new technology.  Fear is usually the reaction that leads to condemnation and banishment of the  misunderstood. It’s a wonder they let people drive. With Yik Yak the danger was the placement of identifiable information no matter how trivial that would bring the verbal attacks so dreaded by the meek and socially ostracized. But if you were able to keep it anonymous then who knows what could be socially accomplished. Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” I wonder indeed what the desired end result was for this app. Community building? Scientific collaboration? Social pressure release valve?

Using the 5 Whys Method one can easily point to the values of those who do harm. But tools given to those who are the recipients of those values are absent. Coping mechanisms, anti-bullying peer programs, and community involvement were non-existent. This is a spectrum of what technology can offer us.

In my opinion, don’t bother with this one. Unless you’ve decided to stay home and go to your high school reunion at the same time.


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