Instead of being afraid of Yik Yak, campus professionals should embrace it as not only a way for young people to explore creativity and develop their identities, but also as a way for professionals to learn more about the campus environment through students’ eyes (1).
It’s plain to see the advantages that an anonymous space provides to the people that use it. As the Wired article highlights, this anonymous space promotes chances to explore other’s thought processes as it relates to their identity without your physical identity being tied to them. As for misrepresenting yourself online, it isn’t always a bad thing. This can include altering your real name to hide who you are or expressing an idea you don’t believe in. Changing your name most likely isn’t a malicious thing, but merely for the user’s security. Also, being able to express an idea you haven’t explored yet allows one to try on a different identity, which could play an imperative part in helping an individual sort out which aspects of other identities should be included in their own. Thus, skewing your own identity can help build it.
You cannot arrest an idea (2).
On the other hand, there are darker aspects to maintaining an anonymous space. As my thesis states, an anonymous space’s identity is completely subjective to what its users make of it. It could turn into a positive Yak community, a meme-factory, a hacker group, or a chaotic group such as “lulzsec” mentioned within the documentary. When people are allowed to misrepresent themselves, they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Just as the quote suggests, lulzsec was entirely impossible to stop despite their illegal and malicious behavior due to the fact they were anonymous. What do you do in such a situation where you are being harassed for no reason by an entity without physical manifestation? There isn’t much you can do. While anonymity has greatly positive effects and potential, it can also open the gateway to something darker and more abstract. Beyond this abstract idea, identity misrepresentation can also be used to lure people, scam them, and other things ranging from odd to disgusting. With people informed and educated of the dangers of online strangers, this isn’t as much of a risk though.
I’m utilizing the various ways I have for making my documentary video. Many of my friends took video media technology classes in high school and they have provided a lot of feedback on piecing together my documentary. Some of them also have been on 4chan or know a bit about Anonymous and are considering my proposition of an interview. Besides that, I plan to sift through my research sources again this weekend and pulling together related, useful, and interesting screenshots.