Following the news that University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe would resign following pressure and a boycott from students, the campus’s Yik Yak — the anonymous, up-voting, location-based messaging app and the hell we deserve in 2015 — has devolved into a lot of complaining and not-quite-outwardly racist statements from student in the vicinity.
To properly calibrate your reaction to Yik Yak, it’s important to recognize that its basic proposition is “what if there was a comments section all the time, everywhere, attached to nothing in particular.” As the last 20 years of internet have demonstrated, the people most eager to comment anonymously, and most dedicated to the craft, tend to be the most toxic and useless. Yik Yak, whose incentive structure has a kind of built-in feedback loop — it’s known for outrageous and offensive statements; people visit it to make and read outrageous and offensive statements; those outrageous and offensive statements are voted into prominence; which means that it’s known for outrageous and offensive statements — is not an app to load if you want see the best of what our college students have to offer.
But it is a good app for seeing what college students think lots of people believe, but are afraid to say out loud. And at Mizzou, that means a lot of banal, self-interested racism and willful ignorance.
Some users are saying that the incident has only caused them to become more racist.
Some are leaving the school.
Some are mad at the media. (Hi!)
Some are stoked that class got cancelled.
Some are trying to bring everyone together with that dank kush.
Some have missed the point.
Some are unfamiliar with the flawed doctrine of “separate but equal.”
Some lack self-awareness.
Some would like John Cena to weigh in on the matter.
In the end, though, many of the students are just your regular college kids, singularly focused on one thing.