by Jack Stubbs
Anonymous social media has migrated to the Hill in the form of Yik Yak, an app whose popularity is rising among students in Gambier as well as across the country. Created a mere 10 months ago in November 2013, the app has shown widespread popularity across a range of college campuses and has become a focal talking point among Kenyon students.
Yik Yak serves as an anonymous forum with a GPS feature that allows users to see posts within a 10-mile radius of themselves. Users in the Gambier area have begun posting to the app daily, and due to the relative sparseness of the area surrounding the College, as well as the clientele to which the app caters — the 18-24-year-old age range — almost everything that makes it onto Yik Yak is Kenyon-specific. Posts range from Peirce-related complaints to comments on Kenyon’s party culture.
Many of the posts may be merely humorous, but the ramifications of an anonymous app on a campus as tight-knit and integrated as Kenyon’s are troubling.
“It’s pretty recent, but once it started, everyone seems to have it and talk about it,” Indigo Eisendrath ’17 said.
Eisendrath commented on the downside of anonymous posting: the untrustworthy and unverifiable comments. “A lot of the posts are really random … and untrue,” she said.
Despite many students’ willingness to download the app out of curiosity, others worry that Yik Yik enables anonymous users to post offensive or rude remarks without consequences. Although some of the posts “have potential to be rude,” Eisendrath said, they are not necessarily “intended to be offensive.”
Joe Caruso ’17 took a broad and objective look at the app itself: “It can be a form of cyber-bullying … but especially at Kenyon [Yik Yak] is just people joking around,” Caruso said. “Kenyon students do a good job of making the posts funny … but also not making the posts offensive to a specific individual.”
Offensive posts tend to be removed quickly after being flagged. On a campus as small as Kenyon’s, the app has quickly turned into a guessing game of who said what. Caruso feels that the gossip and intrigue generated by Yik Yak is largely harmless.
“Often people will make a post just to see if their friends think it’s funny,” he said. “It’s all in good fun.”