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    What Happens When A Middle-Aged Guy Goes On Yik Yak

    For your consideration, my adventures in Broh-casting -- or Broh Like Me. Here's what happened when I spent 2 days on Yik Yak amongst the students and other anonymous posters, boasting and kvetching and just trying to fit in on one of America's biggest college networks. Buzzademia Exclusive!

    Yik Yak 101 (Continuing Education Edition)

    Fellow Fogies,

    The kids have a new place to play. Forget Twitter. You took over Facebook. Nah, this is called Yik Yak, and it's, well, pretty much what you'd expect, only moreso!

    Yik Yak is an anonymous social network -- Think Twitter without handles (except you can use handles -- handles, but not usernames, clear? I know). And instead of broadcasting to your friends, you're broadcasting to anyone in your vicinity, your current campus-sized geographic area, approx. 10 miles (unless you're near a K-12 school, in which case the app is blocked).

    So it's like JuicyCampus used to be or or any one of dozens of anonymous posting boards in the past with a lineage that goes all the way back to the first outhouses or probably cave walls (outhouse caves?). Basically, for as long as there has been writing of some kind (words, pictures, anything). Anyway, the anonymity and short form (200 characters) means that it's mostly one-liners and lowest-common-denominator type posts -- typos, cursing, internet slang, and snark. Except when it's poetry, and I do believe sometimes it is....

    Oh, and posts get upvotes and downvotes (I know!! The forbidden DISlike!). Upvotes earn you Yakarma (Yak Karma), which is as valuable as certain Latin American currencies. But, and this is the genius, college kids love POINTS! However, too many downvotes from your fellow Yakers, and your post goes bye-bye.

    My Plan...

    I HAD to see what Yik Yak was like. Yes, I remember the old saws about being the creepy old guy in the treehouse, but I couldn't resist. I LOVE treehouses. So, definitely a fish out of water, I decided to try to imitate the posts I saw and pass myself off as one of the many typical users. It didn't always come off the way I intended, but such is my life in Buzzademia. I tried it on campus and at the airport, and well, see for yourselves. Since I study social media, let's call this research. That's what I told my wife, anyway. Yep, same eyeroll from her. Sigh.

    Okay, again, my strategy: Act like the kinds of people I saw posting on Yik Yak...

    Acting Like a Broh

    The message-to-a-hottie genre is a staple of Yik Yak. Of course, I can never seem to play these straight.

    Acting Like an Annoyed Yak

    Another popular genre is the message-to-an-annoying-person-next-to-me (who presumably is not using Yik Yak). The joke here is broad (no pun achieved), but I like the juxtaposition of these two imaginary Angelenos.

    Acting Younger than My Age

    For lots of reasons, Yik Yak is blocked in the vicinity of K-12 schools. But probably safe to assume kids still use it despite the warnings in the TOS.

    Acting My Age

    I wanted to see if I could mark myself as too old for Yik Yak, but this reference is fodder for Too Many Cooks, far too obscure for Yakers. One reply said, "Bone Town?" I have no idea what that means. Please, translate, anyone?

    Acting a Little Older

    This earned some confusion in the replies.

    Acting Like a Put-Out Teen

    The inevitable end of every cool social network.

    Acting Like a Tinder Tool

    And if you don't know what Tinder is... This is the app where college students (and others) go to hookup. (Think or eHarmony without the pretense of searching for a meaningful relationship.) It's a swipe-driven safari!

    Telling the Sad Truth...

    At this time of year, as they return home, Yakers mourn the loss of their campus network. Remember, it's all about your current geographic location, not your affiliations.

    Acting a Little Down

    This earned the sweet reply: "Probably nothing."

    Acting Like an Angry Broh

    The key to Yik Yak is saying what everyone else is thinking.

    Acting Like a Betch

    I think something like this was in a Ginsberg poem.

    Acting Like a Fool in Love

    I started playing with different ways to tell a story through a simple anonymous message via Yik Yak. Thinking of that moment when we must sign off (at least for taxi and takeoff). ((Yes, I know about airplane mode.)) (((Sheesh.)))

    Acting Like an Undergrad

    Don't let the zero upvotes fool you. Attention meds are the rule on campuses. However, Yik Yak has far more jokes about weed than Adderall. Not sure what that indicates.

    Acting Like an Jilted Lover

    Here's a hot mess of ideology and rage. I'm a storyteller at heart -- and this is the kind of screwed up statement that we humans seem to make all the time, especially when we're upset. I was imagining this being shouted by a drunken Zooey Deschanel, but I'm only vaguely sure of who she is.

    Telling the truth again

    Telling the Truth 1 More Time.

    So there you have it...

    A sample of my posts, unless these weren't my posts because, well, it is anonymous.

    See you in the Yaks. (Is that even a thing?)


    I teach writing at the University of Southern California and co-edit the journal Buzzademia.

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