-Andy O’Brien, Assistant Editor
Myspace was launched in August of 2003, effectively changing the internet forever. Dubbed web 2.0, this new iteration of the internet offered a conversation, not just a database. For better or worse, social media allows the individual to become a participant in the worldwide network, not just a spectator.
Social media has become a PR venue for the everyman. The more likes, favorites, and shares that our posts get, the more validation we feel. Social media allows us to choose which aspects of our lives to publish, allowing us to prune and perfume our personas.
After more than a decade of social media, we have all been the pupils of stern advice. Our forward-thinking elders caution us to be careful online. Guidance counselors and parents warn us that businesses and colleges will check our profiles, so we should be selective in our postings.
Apps like Snapchat and Yik Yak lure our generation with opportunities to interact without considering online responsibility. Snapchat’s photo-exchanging software promises that the images sent are only temporary and will be erased forever after being viewed. Beyond the threat of screen shots, a recent leak of Snapchat images proved that the app is not worthy of the trust that it begs for.
Yik Yak, on the other hand, provides users with anonymity. The service allows for a Twitter-like experience, but with a local focus and no profiles or hashtags. “Get a live feed of what everyone is saying around you,” reads the Atlanta-based app’s website.
The idea is attractive to a generation that has been biting its collective tongue on social media for years. Yik Yak allows users to say what they want without the fear of comments haunting their job search. Plus, grandma will never see the posts on this interface. Finally, there is a place online for the people raised alongside social media to express themselves honestly and safely.
Unfortunately, Yik Yak’s potential has been squandered by neo-vandals and cyber bullies. The freedom of expression has been overrun by distasteful and offensive content that rarely even meets its comedic agenda.
I can handle some vulgarity, as long as it has some sort of beneficial purpose. But the bullying, slandering, and defamation of my peers is not acceptable in any context.
We have the freedom of speech. That has been constant since 1791. Unfortunately, Yik Yak has given cowards the ability to mudsling without fear of the consequences that are not protected by the First Amendment.
Everyone has thoughts that they wish they could say. Just because you don’t want your words attributed to you forever doesn’t make you a bad person. But if your hobby is destroying reputations of others without taking responsibility for your words, rethink your character.
Yik Yak provides the infrastructure for entertaining interaction without the bounds of traditional social media. But until it becomes more than a back-alley X-rated gossip board, count me out.