YOLO: Friend or Foe?


Maya Dawson

Junior Zoe Watts is one student facing the mix of uplifting and devastating messages platforms like YOLO bring students

       You need braces. You’re so fake. You’re so pretty- I’m jealous!

       With a chime the messages appear on a battered phone screen, each sent by a different person…but something is conspicuously absent. The sender’s name.

       YOLO, SendIt, Saraha- The name of the app these messages are sent through varies, but each allows the user to receive anonymous messages. This anonymity has redefined the way students interact with one another on social media platforms.

       “It’s a good way to see what your friends really think of you because they’ll feel more comfortable to send you a message when you don’t know who it’s from,” Senior Megan Stahnke said. 

       Though this may be app’s intended purpose many students have found different ways to use the technology, prompting their friends to ask tough questions, confess crushes, and share memories.

       “Honestly, I just use it for recommendations of movies, songs, and books, because I find that’s the only way to actually get people to share what they like,” Junior Graciela Fischer said.

       This app allows students to be vulnerable without fear of judgement from their peers, but anonymity makes the platform an easy target for cyberbullies.

       “Someone sent me two messages. The first said ‘you lying coward’ and the second said ‘you lying coward in need of braces’. Some people can say incredibly hurtful things,” Stahnke said.

       So… why? Why do students use an app that may expose them to hate? For some, the potential to spread positivity makes this risk worth it.

       “During the election I needed a brain break because it was really overwhelming, so I started a SendIt,” Freshman Carly Potter said. “I was wearing lipstick that day and somebody told me I looked like AOC, which is such a huge compliment.”

       Social life has gone virtual as a result of the pandemic, and YOLO and similar apps allow students to push aside the posturing that so defines in-person high school life in favor of speaking one’s mind. If used wisely these apps become a unique opportunity to lift others up, but students must be aware of the risks.

       “Proceed with caution,” Potter said. “There is a feature on SendIt where if someone says something rude you can block them without knowing who they are. Take advantage of that. People can be really mean when they know you can’t figure out who they are.”