As a freshman navigating his first year in college, this fall has become for me a race to assimilate into Wesleyan’s culture as quickly as possible. For some of us more than others, being at Wesleyan is a sometimes overwhelming culture shock. Speaking to many of my fellow classmates, there was a common thread in the desire—and frustration—to feel completely at home and comfortable in the Wesleyan community.
We want to know: Is there a place to wittily interact with the Wesleyan community and share all the tiny facets of campus life that make Wesleyan such a unique school? A safe haven to express yourself without fear that The Man will take you down? A medium to disparage the administration in a humorous, crude and borderline offensive way? A place that isn’t the WesACB? Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, two graduates from Furman University in South Carolina, answered our prayers. Enter Yik Yak.
For those who don’t know, Yik Yak is an app that functions as almost as an anonymous version of Twitter. People can “yak” almost anything (names and addresses are often removed, and once your yak gets -5 likes, it disappears), without a name or handle and anyone who is in a 1.5-mile radius will read the comment. The designated yak zones are often conveniently constructed to encompass whole college campuses, making their user base primarily driven by college students. Scrolling down the Wesleyan Yik Yak feed, you’re treated to an eclectic mix of pop culture references, commentary on campus culture and the administration, random quips about life and more. Even Wesleying made an appearance last week.
In addition, a trend has emerged on the app where users adopt a phrase and use it repeatedly, hence the birth of “You da real MVP,” various iterations of “#thisiswhy,” knocks on Trinity, black squirrels, and “coke so white” jokes.
Who are these anonymous Yik Yak crusaders who risk their lives—more or less—to drop truth and wisdom on the Wesleyan community? Considering the danger in violating the sanctity of Yik Yak, it would not be right to try and expose these heroes. However, Allison Gross ’18, responsible for yaks such as these, sheds some light into the mind of a Yak master:
“I yak things that, if I said out loud, would potentially be socially unacceptable,” Gross said. “Yik Yak is a great way to express yourself in a way you never could with Facebook or Twitter.”
Indeed, Yik Yak offers an alternative to those tired of the obsession over image often associated with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by offering a blanket of anonymity. Over the first several weeks of the school year, whispers began to grow about the new app. As interest increased, yaks that a week before would have got 30 likes now got 50 and so on, until today when the most popular posts will often rack up around 200 likes. This initial buzz was amplified when a Yik Yak table was set up at the club fair and several football players who had been designated as “campus representatives” handed out free stickers and cozies. If there is one thing a college student likes, it’s free stuff, and soon it became not uncommon to see people scrolling through the app on the omelet line at Usdan or on the walk to class or in the bathroom (I personally don’t remember what it’s like to shit without using Yik Yak).
As the Yik Yak hysteria increased there was only one frontier left to be conquered: The Peek Page. Another feature of the app allows users to view the yak pages of hundreds of colleges, catching a glimpse of friends’ experiences at other colleges or sighing contemplatively and wonder what could have been if that Brown rejection letter never came. Most importantly, the Peek Page is a symbol of Yik Yak status. It is a reminder that despite what all the haters said, your college made it and now you can bask in the warmth of knowing that any yak user can see how great your school is. Carter Deane ’18 is responsible for one of Wesleyan’s recent ascensions to Peek Page status:
When asked how Deane was able to secure Wesleyan Peek Page status, he said, “I contacted them vial email asking for a page. I did it because I believe Yik Yak is funny and enables community cohesion and unity. ‘Jock Side vs. Hipster Side syndrome’ is already pretty obvious around campus and Yik Yak addresses this stereotype by not allowing users to discriminate, re: whose stuff they see.”
As Yik Yak crystallizes its importance to the Wesleyan social media scene, people have begun to question how the app will be used next and whether it can sustain the momentum it gained in the first month of school. Schools in Chicago, New Mexico and New York have already banned Yik Yak, and Colgate recently had a series of demonstrations to protest racist yaks. Do yaks from Wesleyan students have the potential to go to far and thus alienate users? Will students simply tire of the app? Download the app and start yakking to find out for yourself.
Bonus: Some quality Yaks from the first month: