Lauren Kritzer: Let’s #YikYakYuck

Lauren Kritzer is a 2006 Staples grad. When she read about Yik Yak — the social media app that swept through Staples, stunning students with the virulence of anonymous posts — she was moved to respond. Lauren says:

I am the COO of a Manhattan-based platform innovation company, Applico. We started in 2009 as an app development company, so the impact of technology and innovation is nothing new for our clients and our business.

It is easy to be blindsided by innovation. News sources say Yik Yak “hits like a hurricane.” Didn’t Amazon hit like a hurricane? What about Netflix? The iPhone? SnapChat? Uber? Airbnb?

Lauren Kritzer, COO of a platform innovation company, is active in many educational and nonprofit initiatives.

Lauren Kritzer, COO of a platform innovation company, is active in many educational and nonprofit initiatives.

New York is trying to ban Airbnb, and I’m sure Blockbuster would have loved to make Netflix illegal. But you can’t prohibit innovation, any more than you can tell the average college student that drinking is banned on campus. Our approach is completely wrong.

This isn’t a hurricane; this is a wake-up call. When the principal of Staples was interviewed about Yik Yak, he said, “don’t look at it. If you don’t see it, it won’t bother you.”

But you can’t ignore the bullying, and you can’t ban the app. The plan to “geo-fence” (block people who access the app at school) will not work. These apps are powerful, easy to access, flexible and open. Not to mention, the students who are targeted can’t turn a blind eye and certainly can’t forget the damage that has already been done. So what should we do?

This is an online community like any other — Facebook, Twitter — but in its current iteration it is an abusive negative community. The people who make up that community are to blame, not the app itself.

Yik Yak

Let’s take back our community. We need to demonstrate to our students the power of their own voice in a positive way. We need to educate them about innovation, self-branding and the constructive use of technology. 

So we (young professionals, parents, teachers, principals) need to use Yik Yak in the right way!

I propose:

  1. Valedictorian Eliza Llewellyn should publish her entire graduation speech on Yik Yak in bite-sized pieces, in order to kick off this campaign.
  2. We should all start having our own positive daily conversation on Yik Yak, overwhelming the app and showing those who are bullied that the community is here for them. Let’s put the positive/bland comments on the top. Start liking!
  3. Hashtag #YikYakYuck on every post.
  4. Determine a campaign where YikYak will bring opportunities to students. Let’s show them there are two paths to go down – reactive or proactive.

We have been reactive — just like every student who read a hurtful YikYak post. They need leaders who can teach them how to be proactive. Open that app and don’t turn a blind eye. Show them how to use it to become a better version of themselves. We will not understand the changes in the school environment unless we join it and think steps ahead.

Guess what, Staples? We were hit with a hurricane, but the typhoon is coming and is far more powerful…so #YikYakYuck.

Lauren Kritzer in 2006. It's not that long ago -- but no one had ever heard of "apps."

Lauren Kritzer in 2006. It’s not that long ago — but no one had ever heard of “apps.”


28 responses to “Lauren Kritzer: Let’s #YikYakYuck

  1. Kira Rukin

    So impressed to read this and I’m inspired by the positive force of your message. I’m on board! (In attitude only, I don’t really care for wasting, er, I mean, taking my time on apps. 🙂
    Thank you for being the positive force our world needs so urgently!
    May the positive voice prevail!!!!

  2. Susie Daut

    BRILLIANTLY simple idea…back to the basic principles of LIGHT triumphing over DARK, GOOD over EVIL, etc. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! thanks for taking the charge on this…

  3. Love the idea. I hope it takes off. This is not only an answer to Yik Yak, but to every other app that will come along long after I am no longer at Staples.

  4. Steve Stein

    There is always a small percentage of people, young or old, who do bad things when they can do it anonymously and they think they can get away with it! Doesn’t matter if it is high school kid on YikYak, a driver on the Merritt in rush hour or a writer to Dan’s blog.

    There is always going to be a fringe element that will spoil things for everyone! I hate to say that is the nature of human nature- having a small number of potentially bad eggs!!

    Dan ended the nastiness at by declaring on this blog you could no longer post anonymously! The nastiness on YakYak would end in a millisecound if there was no anonymity- but then there would be no reason for YikYak to exist! And how many drivers would be so outrageously dangerous if instead of a random set of letters and numbers their license plates were their cell telephone numbers- so you could call them and ask them to please back off you rear bumper !!

    Anonymity can breed bad behavior!

    If you want to say or do something, you should be proud enough to put your name on it!

    • Bart Shuldman

      Please get them to use their real names. If someone wants to bulky another then their name will be known.

  5. Bart Shuldman

    Lauren. May I add one more item to your list. If people decide to write in Yik Yak, do so by using their real name and not go anonymous. Websites that are built around anonymous writers create the ability to have postings that are cruel, etc. What really needs to be done is stop websites from allowing anonymous writers.

    So please request whoever will write to use their real name. Let’s use 06880 as an example. Dan Woog changes from anonymous to the use of your name. The content and the opinions are still there. But it has stopped some from attacking and creating the wrong atmosphere.


  6. Great suggestion!

  7. Lizzz Kritzer

    Bravo, Lauren!

  8. Caroline Sylvie Desrochers

    So impressed to read this .. Congratulations .. Looking forward for the next step .. #Proud ..

  9. armelle daniels

    I completely agree w/ Steve and Bart. This idea will only work if people use their real name. The issue is not offering a platform for people to express their thoughts, but the lack of accountability that anonimity instills.

  10. I love Lauren’s ideas and wanted to add some of my own to the conversation. As Dan and others know, I’ve always been passionate about school climate issues/anti-bullying efforts and would love to see a pro-active response to this most recent issue.

    I did a bit of research after reading how Yik Yak was upsetting the SHS community and found some resources from the White House Mental Health Conference videos from this past year. There’s a big emphasis on how to use technology to support students/teens mental health. I couldn’t help but wonder if these amazing resources were SHS reaching students as I’d never heard of them before. (See Want to help spread the Love is Louder message and make a difference for your friends, organization school or community? Plan a Love is Louder Event. The Action Kit PDF below gives you some ideas for events that promote the Love is Louder movement.)

    I especially appreciated Lauren’s idea to focus on how to teach students to use technology with a positive purpose. Perhaps an assembly or new computer class component addressing how technology can be used as a weapon or an agent for change.

    Another thought is what type of forum at SHS that would help leaders and targets of YikYak to reclaim their community and voices. Perhaps, a Ted x Staples event for student to voice their SHS experience (storytelling is great for building community and breaking down walls/taboos) or perhaps a theme with lessons for incoming Freshman (the latter would give students a chance to see themselves as mentors with wisdom to share).

    Look forward to hearing others’ thoughts & ideas.

    Jocelyn Schur, SHS Class of 2007

  11. cheryl McKenna Kritzer

    Love that Mr Dodig is open minded and creative enough to try a new approach. We here in Westport are lucky to have this principle and Staples graduates working together….. bravo to you both!

  12. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    An unusual approach to basic reason and problem solving.

  13. Judy Luster

    Well said Lauren. You offered something that’s possible and positive.

    • Caroline Sylvie Desrochers

      I am 100% behind you .. I’m sending you energy to continue your good work .. Between that .. If I can help you in any way .. Please .. Do let me know .. We can join our forces and make @ change around our two worlds .. Take care .. 🙂

  14. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Okay. Am I the only one who really doesn’t get this “eye for an eye” (app for an app) mentality?
    When did people stop learning how to ignore bad things, hurtful comments?
    When did it become so very hard to learn to deal with such universal problems by using self responsible problem solving? Conscience. Experience.

    Why need an app to think for oneself? How does this help a child grow up?
    I actually think that the above “solutions” only add fuel to the fire,
    an easy outlet for what are, can be, easily solved life problems.

    • I love the positive attitude and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, there are a lot of life/universal problems that should be “easily solved” and are not. I would love to put all our heads together and fix the bullying outside of Yik Yak but the reality of the situation is that we have to blow out the fire first. My favorite quote is “Don’t forget to Drain the Swamp as You Slay the Alligators” – we must stop the YiK Yak non sense while still focusing on the biggest goal: Put an end to bullying.

      • Nancy Hunter Wilson

        The best education comes from being bullied.
        Bullying has been a part of human nature since day one.
        Imagine History without conflict. New ideas would be unheard of.
        No problems, so no solutions. No thought.

        No app in the world can change human nature. Let kids be kids and learn to figure it out themselves.

  15. Caroline Sylvie Desrochers

    I am 100% behind you Lauren .. I’m sending you energy to continue your good work .. Between that .. If I can help you in any way .. Please .. Do let me know .. We can join our forces and make @ change around our two worlds .. Take care .. 🙂

  16. martin ogrady

    WRONG WRONG WRONG !!! Just as we no longer repeat the name of a convicted felon why should YIK Yak get ANY recognition– No reason to post A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G on Yik Yak–Keep it positive BUT not on Yik Yak—EVER

    • We are not giving light to the bullies. We are using the online community the way it was intended to be used. By doing so, it is no longer a “gossip app”.

  17. So a solution is to get people to use their real names on an ap that has a primary purpose of allowing anonymous communication? Good luck with that.

  18. Ted Friedman

    A few thoughts on this very well intended suggestion:
    1) Yik Yak is designed as an anonymous app and that is a large part of the attraction to those that use it
    2) Unless you get 100% to declare their names, the idea will falter
    3) What is to stop people from using aliases?
    4) Yik Yak does not want high school or middle school students using theirs app; it is meant for college students
    5) Having a sophomore at Staples and a sophomore at Wake Forest, I have reviewed the quality of the dialogue for both locations and neither have any redeeming social qualities (the quality of the college student’s tawdry humor is better perhaps)
    6) Most importantly, Yik Yak was a 5 hour phenomenon at Staples that was essentially buried by virtually all the students weeks ago as they have moved on to other apps. In my opinion, let Yik Yak rest in peace.

  19. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    I’d like to readdress my last, rather harsh, comment on this matter.
    It is hard to explain that fine line between the face-to-face “sticks and stones…” and the internet bullying we hear about, or experience, today.
    It’s that fine line, akin to the need to tamper with fairytales and fables, to pretty them up so as not to shock young minds, that seems “different” now.

    Cautionary tales also require a sense of forgiveness.

  20. This paragraph gives clear idea in favor of the new users of blogging, that actually how to do
    blogging and site-building.