Letter to the Editor: 9-5-14

I would first like to thank you for the recent coverage of last week’s demonstration in support of the protests happening in Ferguson, Mo. Although it seems unlikely, if anyone isn’t familiar with the events happening in Ferguson, I suggest you read up.

While the protest was met with some support by students, faculty and administration, it also sparked controversy, which is to be expected. What was unexpected, however, was the backlash found on the social media app Yik Yak.

Yik Yak is an app that allows its users to post, like, dislike and comment anonymously and without connection to a specific username or account. The app only shows posts from the area where it is being used. So if the app is opened in Murray, it is safe to assume that all the posts, comments, etc., are made by Murray State students.

After the demonstration, I checked the app and was appalled by what I read. Yik Yak’s feed was inundated with posts filled with racial slurs and stereotypes aimed at black students. I did not find any kind of remotely intelligent civil discourse that could bring about actual understanding and change.

The posts I found had little to do with what we were protesting or the events in Ferguson. Yik Yak users simply used the protest as an opportunity to perpetuate stereotypes and spew the kind of racial hate speech that we often like to pretend no longer exists.

What’s arguably worse is that when I then checked Twitter and Facebook, there wasn’t anything resembling the bigotry that I found on Yik Yak.

The posts on Yik Yak were not made by students legitimately concerned about race issues on campus, but instead made by students who wanted to feel like “part of the action” without taking real ownerships of their opinions. The students who post on Yik Yak are hiding behind the app’s anonymity.

Our generation already struggles with face to face communication. We prefer to communicate behind the safety of our smartphones or tablets, and apps like Yik Yak just make things worse. Murray State students need to take responsibility for what they say. Own your opinions and stand firmly behind your viewpoints. If you still feel the need to remain anonymous, then consider re-evaluating what you have to say.

Voicing different beliefs is a necessary catalyst for change, but there is no value in anonymously and cowardly spreading hate. Call us protesters what you will, but one thing’s for sure; we have a hell of a lot more courage than anyone posting on Yik Yak.

 

Letter from Alix Bloodworth, Senior from Murray