Technology takeover: Yik-Yak app makes cyberbullying easier

An anonymous app is giving bullies the power to degrade others while hiding behind a five-inch screen.

photo illustration by Courtney Kurtz

By Courtney Kurtz, Tyrone Area High School

High school should be the ideal time and place to discover and create who you are. However, with high school comes the inevitable negatives–rumors and drama.

In small towns like Tyrone, PA, rumors have always spread like wildfire. But technology that allows information to be passed along within seconds is making the small town rumor mill even more vicious and destructive.

The talk of Tyrone Area High School lately has been the new app Yik-Yak.

Originally marketed to the 18-24 age group, college students generally use Yik-Yak to post funny statements about professors, their town, or their university.

What makes Yik-Yak different from social media, like Twitter or Facebook, is that the posts made on the app are completely anonymous. It uses GPS to show viewers other anonymous posts made by others in the area. Each post can be viewed for twelve hours; however, if a post receives a set number of “dislikes,” it may be removed.

So what could be the harm with a few teenagers posting funny statements about their peers, their teachers, and their communities? Everything.

After downloading the app to see what all the commotion was about, I was ashamed to be a part of Tyrone High School. Because the anonymity frees students of confrontation, day after day, the app is filled with horrid, degrading posts about students’ peers. No one seems to worry about the consequences of their words because there are no usernames to trace.

Why is it suddenly okay to bash someone online and not think twice, just because your name is not attached to your actions? By kindergarten, we already knew the difference between right and wrong, and how badly bullying can harm people on the receiving end.

I did read one comment that got it right.

 “This town wouldn’t be so messed up if people would start lifting each other up instead of tearing them down.”

My personal advice is to simply delete the app–or, if you still use it, don’t be a coward hiding behind your phone screen. You’re not going to be in high school forever. Learn to not tear others down to be at the top of the food chain. Otherwise, once you’re out of high school, you’ll be back at the bottom again.