There’s a certain rush in being able to say whatever you want with guaranteed anonymity. Who wouldn’t love their own Gossip Girl moment? But platforms for sharing your thoughts inevitably become tools for hate and negativity. Try as we might to deny it, Goshen College is not immune to cyber-bullying. 

Freedom to express yourself freely without consequence is a right that should be afforded to all GC students, but it’s disappointing when it is used to ridicule and belittle others. 

Seeing hateful messages on Yik Yak or other social media platforms makes me think of GC’s emphasis on community, but what does it mean to be part of a community? 

Being a commuter, I often struggle identifying with certain aspects of college life. I’m not around a lot and after my classes all I want to do is bike home to my cat. Being on Yik Yak exposed me to a side of campus life I honestly was not prepared for. People are so mean! 

All I can think about while scrolling through the app is that these hateful posts are coming from people who I probably pass by on a regular basis; they could even be from someone I’ve shared a class with or bumped into at the Rott. 

It’s entrancing, trying to match people to certain posts, comparing Yakarma scores with friends. It can even be fun except when everyone around you becomes a suspect and polite smiles turn into potential leads on who might’ve said what on Yik Yak last night.

It’s a bit unsettling when you really sit down and think about it. 

Before anyone gets mad, I’m not above Yik Yak. I’ve even sent out a few Yaks myself. But sadly, platforms like that give people the confidence to say a lot of shocking things. 

I recall seeing a lot of ignorant posts after the annual drag show performance in the fall semester and being so shocked at the blatant disrespect from our fellow peers. 

It’s disheartening that the hard work put in by the students and local performers went unnoticed and was met with such closed mindedness. I appreciate all the people who showed up and showed us love during the show, but we can’t ignore what happened. 

Sure they have a right to their opinions, but should it really come at the expense of others? While you send your hurtful messages  and hide behind a silly emoticon, understand that there’s a real person on the other side being affected. 

I understand that the college can’t do much to control people’s social media usage, but the very least we can do is talk about it. 

There’s power in calling out harmful speech or behavior. Staying silent, even if you mean well, still normalizes an environment where people feel it’s alright to be a bully. 

As elementary as it might sound, that’s what those “Yik-Yakers” are — bullies. 

My pessimistic nature won’t allow me to believe that there’s a future out there where people aren’t bigoted, but I sincerely hope that people will eventually realize how cringey it is to post hate speech on Yik Yak.  Facebook exists for a reason.