Step Sing groups practice for weeks in various areas around campus and the Birmingham area, keeping their performances a secret. With an event as cherished and long-awaited as Step Sing, the care that is taken in concealing the themes is apparent.
Groups share their excitement by posting pictures of themselves post-rehearsal on social media, and group texts and GroupMe’s keep everyone in the loop. However, another social media app has taken center stage, and its impact is often described as detrimental. The app is called YikYak.
YikYak is an anonymous messaging app where people can post messages for anyone within a five-mile radius to see. The app was launched in 2013 and quickly became popular among high school and college communities.
The app started off as a way for students to connect over their common school or university, but quickly became a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech. In 2017, the app was then shut down after a 76% drop in user downloads due to the toxic space it had turned into. The owners of YikYak released a statement saying they were committed to taking a strong stance against threats and other abuse and relaunched the app in 2021.
With this information in mind, students around campus were asked how they felt YikYak would affect Step Sing.
Madeline Solis, a first-year student in the Unclassified group participating in Step Sing, noted the negativity that results from the app and comments that its effect on Step Sing will be interesting.
“YikYak is very uncensored, and people will say a lot of out-of-pocket things while on the app,” Solis said. “You never know what’s going to be said on the app.”
Andrew Aho, Director of Step Sing group Spectrum, shared personally that his group has been the target of hurtful comments via the app.
“I usually don’t see any positive outcomes from YikYak or other similar platforms. People see it as an anonymous platform where they can say anything and have no consequences,” Aho said. “It’s truly hurtful to have worked hard on a show and performed your heart out just to have people pour out hate on both the show and the participants as people.”
It’s clear that within the world of Step Sing, YikYak is a catalyst for destruction of confidence and morale. To get some insight from those not in Step Sing, Emma Wolfe, a sophomore at Samford not involved in Step Sing, shares her point of view.
“During Step Sing season, YikYak is undeniably the most popular social media platform,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe said that the main topic of conversation on the app is about who will be the best and who will be the worst.
“YikYak has a more negative impact because those who actually perform, eventually see those (negative) messages, and lose confidence,” and shared that she has “personally heard of students seeing comments during the show, and no longer wanting to perform.”
She closed by saying that she wishes “YikYak was used to recognize the hard work put into each individual show instead of putting them down.”