It is 2:00 in the morning, and the world is entirely dark. The silence, only occasionally punctuated by soft movements from the floor above or the hum of a clip-on fan, is all-encompassing and falls over the space with a sort of heaviness.
And yet – in spite of the quiet, the student body is alive, and it has the worst case of blue balls imaginable.
In its desire to express its overwhelming horniness (and/or loneliness – the line between the two has long since blurred), the campus community has swarmed to a sleepless pocket dimension, where every imaginable thought can be expressed away from the eyes of the school administration. This outlet is none other than YikYak, and as I watched it finish downloading onto my home screen, I began to reconsider the choices I had made that led me to this point. “It was for the sake of this article,” I told myself. Clearly morbid curiosity had nothing to do with it.
The app allows users to post “Yaks” – essentially whatever the hell they want to say in 200 characters or less – entirely anonymously, which are visible to every person with the app within a five-mile radius. Upon its release in 2013, it spread across high school and college campuses like wildfire, and the collective realization that it was impossible to assign a face to a message prompted an outpour of bigotry that nobody knew how to deal with.
Ultimately, school administrations across the country eventually caught wind of the enormous trainwreck that had taken place directly underneath their noses, and amidst a massive outcry it went offline in 2017.
So why bring it up now?
Five years later, in August 2021, the YikYak developers decided to exhume their offspring in an attempt to revive something that should have probably stayed buried for the foreseeable future. To their credit, they tried to make it look nicer before throwing it back onto the market – there’s now an anti-bullying policy, although I’m really not sure how it’s supposed to be effective when the app operates exactly the same way as it did before. Time will tell.
Regardless, it drew a significant amount of attention, quite possibly more than anyone expected.
As I scroll through posts, I am continually met with the realization that while I (likely) do not know this person’s face, or this other one’s, I know how desperately they want to get railed or that they annihilated one of the bathrooms in Yates thanks to the food dye in a piece of red velvet cake. There is a lingering sense of how surreal this is – in what other world would I be told that it’s been a week since you last got f***ed before I know your name?
It sometimes occurs to me that even if you have met me personally, barring the possibility that we’re close, I don’t think that you would tell me most of the things you’ve said on here. I think that’s the whole reason why people go on the app, and why it was able to make such a resurgence: it’s infinitely easier to express feelings honestly when you leave nothing that can attach them to you, and by extension nothing that can lead to judgement or consequences.
In an hour or two, the sky will begin to lighten. I continue to refresh the app.
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