By Sarah Frick, President
In years past University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) has been reaching new levels of sharing “too much information”. Platforms of social media anonymity originally came from various Facebook pages run by unknown admins. UMF Crushes, UMF Confessions, and UMF Compliments, all allowed students to post their thoughts to the rest of the community without ever actually being associated directly with them.
This concept has been taken to a new level with the growing popularity of the app, Yik Yak. Through Yik Yak, users have the ability to post anonymous statements which can only be seen by other app users in the area. These viewers then have the ability to vote a “yak” up or down. After a certain period of time all Yaks eventually disappear into cyberspace, becoming mere legends. The freedom of being able to post anything and everything has been, for better or worse, embraced by users across campus.
There are several different types of Yaks the UMF community has perfected. The most prominent have been cries of desperation for cuddle buddies, and other “companionship.” To clarify, Yik Yak is indeed an anonymous app, and therefore near impossible to actually connect personally with people without publicizing additional private information to the general community. Recently, Yak users were treated to their own version of Romeo and Juliet. Two Yak users, both suffering from colds, exchanged Snapchat usernames, and in the 21st century that translates to basically engaged.In summation, Yik Yak, except for the truly courageous, is not a dating site. In the wise words of Regina George “Stop trying to make it happen, it’s never going to happen.”
There are of course the standard Yaks you would expect from a college town about somewhat illegal activities. In theory, the appeal of attending a party via a Yik Yak invitation is probably on the same level of crashing a funeral: no one wants you there and it is going to be awkward. In addition, just another point of clarification: anyone in the area can read these posts. This includes, though is not limited to, police, campus police, the Farmington community, and did I mention police?
The final, and probably most controversial Yaks are those that call out individual people, or groups on campus. It is in these Yaks that the app can become not only hurtful, but mirror activity that is typically called stalking. Take for instance “heely guy,” who’s decision to wear Heelys, those shoes that have wheels in the heel, has gained him campus fame. One yak read “Heely guy isn’t the hero UMF deserves, but he’s the hero we need.” Where “heelys guy” has been given hero status, other individualized Yaks drift towards mockery. On occasion, specific people are mentioned, and then either insulted, or made the brunt of a joke. In such cases Yaks may be reported, down voted, and may be taken down.
The joy of Yik Yak is to remain anonymous. Sometimes, the stream of consciousness of people is truly amusing. There comes a point though, where the Yaks can become too critical, too hurtful. Though credit to the author is taken away, the meaning of the words still carries its full weight. Yak away Farmington; tell the world about how you slept through your 8 am, the questionable meal you ate at Aramark, and please let us know just how weird you get on the weekends. Just remember, that even behind a screen, your words still mean something to someone.