Given the social media application Yik Yak’s recent role in Franciscan University Student Government proceedings as well as in the still-unfolding racial tensions at the University of Missouri, the app’s multifaceted purpose seems one in need of clarification.
Yik Yak, an application available for both iOS and Android, grants users access to a discussion thread within a 5-mile radius of their location. The program promotes a wide forum of discussion, with the topics generated by users themselves. However, it is a social media platform which allows users to post on any subject anonymously.
Megan Salzano, sophomore clinical psychology major, said she uses the app once or twice a week, and she first promoted the positive aspects of the app.
“It’s funny sometimes to see what’s going on around you,” she said. “The app is geared towards college students, and some of the posts are just so funny. Some of them are just so great.”
Posts often make requests through the app, said Salzano.
“A lot of the times it can be used to ask for prayer, and you can even meet up with people,” she said.
Salzano herself once used the app to better the life of another user.
Beside the app’s purpose as a satirical outlet for anonymous uploaders, Salzano stressed its practical purposes.
“I met a girl through Yik Yak who was having guy issues,” said Salzano. “She asked for advice, and we were actually about to meet and I could help her through that.”
However, Yik Yak is a social media platform frequented by crass comments, humor and sincerity alike.
Salzano said the ability to use the app for both derogatory and pro-life means is an opportunity in itself.
“You can choose to be a nuisance, or you can be pro-life, not strictly regarding abortion, but pro-life, towards life,” said Salzano.
However, as is true with any social media application, there are disadvantages. Steven Edwards, junior marketing major, said as much in his summary of the problems with the app.
“A lot of the posts are pointless, and I don’t understand half of the posts which are on there,” he said. “People will also post overly emotional things, which should … probably stay private.”
Edwards continued, “Other posts are just really crude, and they confuse and darken your day. There’s just a lot of inappropriate stuff that doesn’t need to be posted.”
Franciscan University strives to promote that which fosters, not hinders, a personal relationship with Christ.
Ned Hesser, senior resident assistant in Trinity Hall, said the app can still allow students to pursue that authentic relationship.
“In principle, Yik Yak is not without merit, as it gives people a statement that they must evaluate based only on its contents, and not who said it,” said Hesser.
Even so, the platform is not without immediate safety concerns which must be quelled before proper use.
Hesser said, “It’s not completely anonymous. If you violate their terms of service, they have the right to turn your account information over to the police or to university student life departments, and have done so in the past to other universities. If need be, they can do it here.”
Negative components notwithstanding, Salzano said the app, as it presents the opportunity to spread life, is one worth the investment.
“You can affirm the dignity in all life, with your comments and with the way you act,” said Salzano. “You can do that with anything you do.”
The experience itself is meant to mirror Christ’s emphasis in 1 John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”