JULIET GELFMAN RANDAZZO '18
Yik Yak is quickly becoming the best place to rant about any and all annoyances, amusements, and absurdities that Wesleyan students have. The concept of an online center for the sharing and validation of thoughts through the means of a ‘like’ or ‘upvote’ is not new; Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Myspace (RIP) have all provided similar opportunities for students to share intimate details of their lives with friends, peers, and strangers. However, with Yik Yak comes the promise of anonymity, the idea that no one knows you just Yakked about a hot TA in an intro science class, or the plethora of hickies acquired last Friday night.
So what are the majority of Yaks about? The “taboo” topics of sex (funny anecdotes about sexual encounters, despondent yearnings for partners), drugs (the real daily hangover struggle, that ceaseless cloud of smoke rising from Foss), and poop (laxatives inherent in Usdan food, lack of privacy and fear of gender neutral restrooms).
Only Yaks that appeal to a majority of campus have the potential to be truly successful. Thus, a Yak making fun of a singular group on campus, ie. Psi U or the baseball team will be far less “hot” than one that is applicable to all members of campus, and allows us all to band together in solidarity against a common enemy—Trinity, for example. In this way, Yik Yak requires a transcendence of both social and gender binaries that exist at Wesleyan, as Yaks must be as universally appealing as possible to garner true success.
Consequently, we return to the main issues that rise above any differences that exist at Wes: the aforementioned sex (“Organized a threesome last night. Couple of no shows but still fun.”), drugs (“You’re acting weird and everyone is noticing. #thisishigh”), and poop (“Quickly peeing before midterm and realizing you really need to poop: ‘I don’t have time for this shit.’”) And this begs the question: if these are the topics that the majority of students have in common and think about the most, then why are they the subjects that we feel too embarrassed or self-conscious about to mention publicly? Why are they “taboo” when we speak about them in a self-identifying way?
Ultimately, it seems that in a school where there is such an emphasis on being different and unique, it is comforting to know that others feel the same on subjects that are less comfortable to discuss outwardly. What’s more, the app is largely lacking in the maliciousness that characterizes most anonymous social media presences--perhaps a result of the feature that deletes yaks after 5 downvotes--though this may say more about Wesleyan as a society than the nature of the app itself.
When it comes down to it, Yik Yak is a great place to feel an ephemeral sense of accomplishment through a clever or relatable turn of phrase that may not be socially acceptable on a public scale, or would not be relevant to others outside of the Wesleyan bubble. Its focus on college culture, accentuated by the ‘peek’ page (which Wesleyan is newly featured on!!), gives Wesleyan the opportunity to put its own spin on the app. And so it should come as no surprise that amid the varied romantic, drunken, and scatological Yaks, it is still common to read, “We’re better at approaching girls than you- Wes Squirrels xoxo Gossip Squirrel.”