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Sharkboy and Lavagirl expose Carleton’s Yik Yak scene

From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Tiktok, we may have thought we’d seen every form of social media possible. However, quickly overtaking campus is a new app that seems to have no limits. 

According to The Business Journals, Yik Yak, an app where students can anonymously post short messages to a public forum similar to Twitter, was launched in November 2013 by Furman University fraternity brothers Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington. Yik Yak influencers Sharkboy and Lavagirl, who choose to remain anonymous in the spirit of the app, gave The Carletonian the inside scoop into the new app that’s taken over campus.

They explained that Yik Yak allows users to post messages, of “yaks,” to a forum where fellow users can choose to “upvote” or “downvote” them. If a yak receives at least five downvotes, it will be removed from the page, while yaks that receive numerous upvotes will be trended higher on the page. 

According to Sharkboy and Lavagirl, community members are given a herd of “yakkers” that allow them to get yaks within a five-mile radius. For students, this means that yaks are limited to Northfield residents, especially Carleton and St. Olaf students.

Sharkboy and Lavagirl have been on the app for five weeks, and currently have yakarmas of 1.6k, and their most upvoted yaks have 114 and 115 upvotes respectively. Lavagirl credits their success to their humor.

“We’re very funny people,” Lavagirl said.

Sharkboy echoed this sentiment, adding that there’s an element of relatability that students may appreciate.

“It’s relatable content, you know, talking about LDC (Language and Dining Center), or talking about random stuff that happens around campus,” Sharkboy said.

In addition to jokes about campus, according to both Sharkboy and Lavagirl, there’s a sense of relatability in the mindset across the community. Sharkboy labeled this sentiment an “off-limits zone” that allows people to make fun of themselves.

“Self-deprecating jokes, mental health jokes, really our campus is in a great state right now, mentally speaking,” Lavagirl said. “So, I think people like to laugh at themselves.”

Pictured above is one of Sharkboy’s yaks. As users can see, it touches on universal senses of dehydration and stress that come with the Carleton lifestyle, making it relatable to the community as a whole.

However, having been on the app so long, Sharkboy and Lavagirl have come to see the unethical practices that occur. They shared that occasional lies can be acceptable, as pictured here, but users should never steal content.

Lavagirl’s yak here provides an example of an acceptable lie. There is no harm produced, and the content of the yak was entirely their own.

While it can be difficult to consistently produce original content, Sharkboy and Lavagirl shared that external validation is a strong motivating factor for them.

“That number means so much to me,” Sharkboy said. “It’s kind of like asking someone what their GPA (Grade Point Average) is, but I will tell them my yakarma instead because I’m more proud of it. It’s validation—people think I’m funny.”

They left the interview with a few words of advice to anyone trying to rise in the Yik Yak rankings, sharing that with consistent posting, it’s certainly possible to get scores up. 

“Have a good theme, if you need to think things out, that’s ok—wording is important,” Lavagirl said. “Also, if you want to throw things at the wall, just don’t slam us with crappy content, but do have fun with it. That’s what it’s there for.”

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