This story is about me, and my relationship with an app called Yik Yak. It was, I’ll admit, a brief fling of a relationship, but I think it may have lasting effects on me. Possibly. More likely I will forget about it completely, and a year from now be in the middle of another fling with an equally addicting app. For now the memory of my Yik Yak experience remains fresh in my mind.
To give some background that I feel may be important, I should share a few things about myself. First off, I am a fairly sensitive person, and if I’m honest with myself, I am fairly easily hurt. You make a joke that goes a bit too far, an unthinking cutting remark, or a casual critical comment, and I am that person who will be thinking about it for days. I won’t tell anyone I am, but I am. Second, while I have this side of me that will wince at harsh words, I simultaneously possess a character trait that looks at the world and all its challenges and basically shouts, “Come at me brah!” (Note the usage of the very hip slang term, ‘brah’; that side of me likes to think I’m cool). You know the fantastic animated Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender? I am continually both a Toph and a Katara, constantly desiring to be a tough-as-rock badass, but also a super sweet girl who just goes around water-bend healing everywhere. And it seems that there is no definitive way to determine at any given moment which personality will be expressed and which will be repressed.
So with that background in mind, enter Yik Yak. For anyone unaware, Yik Yak is a phone app that allows anyone in the area with the app to post “yaks” anonymously. Other users can read these posts, and either ‘up’ vote them (if they have good “Yakarma”) or ‘down’ vote them (for the posts with bad “Yakarma”). Users can also anonymously comment on these posts. It’s a fun little app, but of course the whole anonymous element tends to lend to a great deal of bashing, complaining, etc. Unavoidable. But it was an interesting little way to connect with many students across the campus, and it was quite fascinating observing how various happenings at our university would affect the topics posted about on the app. A certain “ticket lady”, of whom I myself do not possess any knowledge or awareness, seems to be the most popular subject for our Tulsa Yik Yak feed.
I downloaded Yik Yak about two weeks ago, and during our time together there were many a five-minute-time-slot-before-class when Yik Yak was there for me. I can’t deny the fun times we had. But then last night happened.
Yesterday evening I was flipping through the various yiks and yaks, when I happened upon one where the writer complained about people who tell them they’re wrong, and demanded that people cease to do so. Normally, I would have only very privately thought to myself in my head, “That’s understandable, but also illogical” and then moved past the post. But last night, having just come from a talk on relativism and its harm on society, I did a very stupid thing. I responded to this post.
This action from the get-go was not a good idea, as I firmly believe most social media internet arguments result almost exclusively in hateful words and unproductive debate. I should have known better and just let this post go. But my Toph-self was feeling bold, and so I posted a reply stating that a person could be wrong, and just because an opinion is your own does not make it correct. I thought I had posted a firm and polite reply, which communicated dissent, but not any kind of aggression. Clearly I was mistaken.
I soon received a response to my comment, declaring, among other things, that it was “people like you who caused the holocaust!!!”. (I did not add in those exclamation marks. They were really just that upset with me.)
I’m sorry, can we just…
Back up here buddy; because I think people can be wrong, you’re equating me with the Nazi regime? Where did that even come from?? I just don’t understand.
You yourself, anonymous-poster, seem to believe that I am wrong, so does that not also make you by your own logic one who “caused the holocaust!!!”, which by the way, you also seem to think was wrong. No logic makes sense here!
But my Toph-self was still ruling, so I looked at that comment and was like, “Psh, that’s just something someone unthinkingly said”, and I made my second mistake of the night; I commented again. Truly, I am an idiot.
I replied with a bit of sass I’ll admit, writing, “Bit of a stretch, don’t ya think? Just because someone says a person can be wrong?” I was again thinking to myself, ‘yeah, that’s non confrontational, it’ll go over well’. Again, mistaken.
Although I received no further responses (that I’m aware of; I deleted the app), my second comment received 6 down votes. A -6 score. To communicate the gravity of that, no one gets a -6 score.
And just like that, my Toph self was gone. Katara-me kicked in full force, and my 8-year-old level of sensitivity emerged. In my mind the message was: there are at least 6 people out there who truly believe you are Nazi-like Danielle. They agree with this person. They do not feel it was a stretch!
Katara-me felt like someone had personally kicked her in the stomach. Yik Yak, had kicked me in the stomach, cause I wasn’t saying the right things. My “Yakarma” score sucked. And just like that, I knew we weren’t gonna work out anymore, and Yik Yak and I broke up.
This break up resulted for a number of reasons: 1. I realized people with bipolar dispositions like mine shouldn’t be on such an app. 2. I further realized Yik Yak contributed no substantial good to my life. 3. I lastly realized I do not want to remain in contact with those who believe I contribute to such unspeakable horrors like the holocaust. It’s just not good for my self-esteem.
What have I learned? Well for one, NEVER ENGAGE IN ANY TYPE OF ARGUMENT OVER SOCIAL MEDIA (really I just reinforced this lesson…), and then secondly, I think it’s made the problems of such anonymity more apparent to me. People can say some really horrid stuff on Yik Yak, and a lot can be really negative. And I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
And that is why Yik Yak and I, have broken up.