Friday, November 27, 2020

New social media app facilitates bullying, privacy invasion

Our generation is obsessed with finding the next biggest social media app, one that will serve as an escape from the reality we are now blinded from. A new app called “Yik Yak” is not only consuming the lives of its users but also destroying those of personally victimized students. Nobody is safe.

The anonymous app allows people within the user’s proximity to post anything on their mind at any given time. Others then either “up-vote” or “down-vote” the post, creating a hierarchy of importance. But far too often, these posts are not important at all. Sure, one could argue that Yik Yak is entertaining. However, these posts are riddled with –isms: racism, sexism, alcoholism, etc.

“Some advice for you international students,” one post reads, “Don’t say 9/11 wasn’t that big of [a] deal. You’re in the wrong state…” This completely arrogant and cowardly student has the audacity to speak on behalf of all international students, many of whom love the opportunity this country has given them to pursue an education. The fact that 39 other people up-voted this comment is perhaps more disturbing than the actual statement itself.

Students not only use Yik Yak as a platform to empty the racist jingoism from their minds, they use the app to facilitate cyber-bullying.

If you enjoy participating in activities that are not “the norm,” chances are you will be ridiculed at some point on Yik Yak. Whether it is hula hooping or slacklining, if it makes you happy, forget about it. Students who don’t “turn up” every weekend and don’t have one-night stands are “doin’ it wrong.”

Yik Yak’s advice? “Turn up or transfer.”

According to the No. 1 rule of Yik Yak, you cannot bully or specifically target other “yakkers.” No. 2? For emphasis, you “DO NOT” bully or specifically target other yakkers.

So why does this problem persist? The only way for Yik Yak to semi-monitor its content is through a dependence on its users to down-vote the post enough times to remove it. Without the numbers, eradicating offensive comments is a difficult challenge, allowing for the increase of cyber-bullying on campus.

Unlike Yik Yak, an anonymous Facebook account Plattsburgh Secrets makes the effort to filter through its content before posting it. Because of this ethical practice, though, Plattsburgh Secrets has been experiencing a decrease in the number of secrets it receives. Why continue to use this page when you can post whatever you want on Yik Yak?

An article on today.com, titled “New home of cyberbullying? Yik Yak gossip app takes off in high schools,” reported students being called “slut” and “fag” at a high school in Westport, Connecticut. Another high school in San Clemente, California shut down because of an anonymous bomb threat on Yik Yak.

The reason these instances are entirely irrelevant to Plattsburgh State is because we attend college, not high school. So, why are we acting like high school students still? Don’t be confused, you are not protected by the First Amendment while using Yik Yak.

The level of immaturity at PSUC is astonishing. Not a single person would say something to somebody’s face. Instead, they post it anonymously on a social media app.

Here’s an idea: stop hiding behind the tiny, glowing screen glued to the palm of your hand. Even better, put it down, walk away from it and get a hobby other than putting others down.

You don’t know what certain people have been through. Don’t put them down even more, lend them a hand. For all of the heartless, keep it easy for yourself — mind your own business.

Yik Yak strips us of any shred of privacy we have to clench on to, even though the motto on their website advertises “Share your thought. Keep your privacy.” Au contraire, Yik Yak. We cannot even leave our dorm room without somebody posting “Chris Burek just left his room to go to the bathroom lol.”

The app gives a new meaning to the expression “Big Brother is always watching.” Watch the things you do, watch the things you say because somebody else with the app could be watching as well. Think of this phenomenon as an omnipresent TMZ.

We all become marionettes, performing for the entertainment and satisfaction of those around us as they jeer and mock our embarrassment. It’s not until we cut the strings that we become free of this manipulative spotlight. The more we misuse Yik Yak, the more we misuse the 1st Amendment and continue to taint the reputations of our fellow students. We’re all in this together.

Ride the yak. After all, it is yak season, and everybody is the hunter.

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