Recently Yik Yak, a social networking app, was used to post anonymous threats to one of our local schools in Iowa (Southeast Polk). Of course, the threats caused serious concern among the administration and community. Appropriate actions were taken to beef up security and school was cancelled after some unrelated local violence which was thought to be connected with the threats but wasn’t in actuality.
The problem with postings on this app is not just local; YikYak has also been used in other parts of the country to post anonymous threats, bully others, and harm the reputations of individuals. Other schools have been shut down over threats posted on this app.
While it is disconcerting what people are posting on this app and that it is being used to make threats to individuals, schools, businesses, etc., is an app located in cyberspace really the problem here? Is it really “the most dangerous app ever seen”?
I don’t think so and I couldn’t disagree more.
While there is a problem, it is not with this app. Yik Yak is just an app after all. It is only the product of some programming and human creativity. As much as we want to blame it for these situations, don’t we need to remember that without human use it’s harmless?
Yes, just like a knife laying innocently in a drawer this app is harmless until touched by a human hand. It is not the most dangerous app ever made; in fact, no app is a “danger” to humanity.
Instead, what YikYak really provides us is a window into human nature. It’s a look down into the well of the human soul. And if we look really, really deeply, we see flaws. We see darkness. And we see troubling behavior that we really don’t want to admit is all too common to mankind. We also don’t want to admit that under the right circumstances any one of us could post something really troubling on YikYak.
The problem is not with this app; the problem is with the degenerate hearts of those who are posting these things.
As the ancient writer Jeremiah said over 2400 years ago, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
What Yik Yak does is provide anonymity which removes the cloak hiding troubling truths about how people think. Without the pressure of being found out and the related consequences, a person can post things they truly think. And some of those things are very, very dark.
So the psychiatrist above hopes that the owners of Yik Yak become bankrupt. Does this really solve the problem? Not only do I doubt it; I know it won’t. If we eliminated Yik Yak, people would find other ways to make anonymous threats and communicate hurtful things just as they did before the invention of modern internet based communication.
Anyone remember the prank calls before the advent of caller id? Believe it or not, you used to be able to make an anonymous call and the person on the other end could not see the number being called from.
The old joke was to call a store and ask, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can”? If they answered “yes”, then you said, “Well you better let him out before he suffocates”! Yeah, the other prank calls I remember were just about as bad.
I also remember my high school getting prank bomb threats the early 1980’s and having to march outside while authorities combed the school.
Yes, this is nothing new. People have been doing these kinds of things forever and will into the future. And, eliminating Yik Yak or any other social website or app will not solve the problem.
So, what is the solution?
The solution is to address the heart problem of students and others using these sites.
Another author, of more modern times, says this…
“Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and the resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.” – Ravi Zacharias
The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope for the hearts of mankind, and the hearts of anonymous Yik Yak posters.
Our prayer and efforts should be directed to communicating this message of love from God, that through His Son, we really can have a renovation of the heart.