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200 characters are enough to hurt

Yik Yak posts can’t go over 200 characters. The ones responsible for the tears and outrage at Staples were far shorter than that, often less than fifteen words.

 It turns out that sexism, homophobia, and cruelty don’t require many letters.

 In fact, the brevity just added to the shock value. And shock value was clearly the goal of most of these posts.

 Why else would someone anonymously write an explicit, personal insult on what is essentially a virtual billboard?

 It’s like three-year-olds yelling profanities: crossing the line to get people’s attention.

 Given people were writing to shock, it’s not surprising that most of the posts were sexual. Flagrantly explicit statements about who had sex and where are definitely going to get noticed by teenagers.

 Even when the posts were about rumors students were already whispering in hallways, it was a jolt to see them in neat black type for anyone with iOS 7 to see—including teachers.

 Adding to shock value was the specificity of some posts. Many malicious claims and cruel insults named certain students. It’s one thing to make a generally sexist joke; it’s another to make a sexually violent comment about a specific girl.

The over-the-top scandal and profanity is probably what grabbed people’s attention—even as most students expressed disgust, they read on, unable to look away from the train wreck of cruelty.

 The one positive takeaway from all of this is the reaction from many at Staples. Posts on Facebook and Yik Yak itself have condemned the malicious posts, and some students have come together to support those victimized.

 Hopefully that proves our generation is not a lost cause. For now, the lingering ugliness from what some have called the “Day of Yak” reminds us how risky instant access to social media really is.


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About the Contributor
Megan Root
Megan Root, News Editor
Megan Root ’15, never stops running, whether it is on the soccer field or chasing a story. She began her Inklings career her second half of junior year as a staff writer and has recently transitioned into a position as a news editor. Before Inklings she was an avid reader of the New York Times who loved politics and education. To Root, one of the main attractions of the paper was it gave her the opportunity to discover more about her school and community. “It gives you cover, you are not just a random person asking questions you are a reporter asking questions.” To Root the interview is the key to the story. After every interview she writes down all of the interesting quotes and pieces of information she took away. It is from this information that she tries to find the story. One piece she wrote that she believes best showcases her ability to do this is Genders split over weight-training. Although the story was originally supposed to be about how some teams were getting more time in the weight room than others, she discovered that the boys’ teams just wanted more time in the weight whereas the girls teams did not. Root has some personal experience with sports, as a varsity athlete and senior captain of the girls varsity soccer team at Staples. She says when she was about three years old her older brother, who also played soccer, started to teach her. And she was marked for success right from the start, “My first game...nobody else really knew how to play, so I had this really unfair advantage, and I scored twelve goals my first game.” She continued that success through high school, making the varsity team her freshman year and becoming captain her junior year.  

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