Life of a Twenty-Something

Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time

An Open Letter from a Penn State Student to a Yik Yak User

Dear Yik Yak User,

I guess my first question is “why?” Why did you choose to make that post? Why did you choose to post about a man dressed in black clothes,  carrying a gun walking down Shortlidge road? What in the world made you think that was funny? Or a good idea?

Did you know your post would get the attention it did? Did you know that I immediately began receiving concerned chains of texts from friends? Did you know that I would turn around and pass those on to all my friends at Penn State? Did you know that I live very close to Shortlidge Road, as do many of my friends? Did you anticipate the fear that would grip my heart because I didn’t know where my two best friends were? Did you factor in the terror that would seize me because I knew their normal route included walking down Shortlidge Road?

Did you guess how my phone would blow up with speculations from my friends and pleas to stay safe and the constant refreshing to see if my friends responded to concerned texts? Did you know my best friends from home would soon send concerned texts of their own because by the time the information reached them, your little joke had escalated into a full-blown shooting?

Did you really think you wouldn’t get caught? That the anonymity of Yik Yak would protect you? Why would you make that joke at any time, but this week in particular? The week after the world was shattered by the terrorist attacks in Paris? Did you think your post was a funny or ironic reaction to the candlelight vigil Penn State students held on Old Main earlier this very night?

My next reaction is “thank God.” Thank God this was false. Thank God I am blessed enough to never experience something as scary as Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, Paris. How incredibly lucky am I that tomorrow when I call my parents, I will pass this off as just another day. How lucky are we that no parents of Penn Staters received the call every parent dreads deep in their heart. How lucky am I that my fear only lasted about 20 minutes before the all-clear was sounded. How grateful we are to the Penn State Police for their swift and decisive response.

Tonight could have been devastating. Tonight could have been filled with tears and sorrow and pain. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Thankfully, my fear was brief — so brief that I almost feel bad about writing about it. But, for however short a time, my fear, my classmates fear, it was real. Perhaps heightened by Paris. Perhaps an extension of worrying about my friends abroad. Who knows. All I know is that, even thought it wasn’t for very long, I still felt fear. Is this post overkill and maybe a little dramatic. Yeah, probably. But for whatever reason, this shook me up more than it normally would. And when I get shaken up, I write about it.

Tonight could have been prevented.

The world does not need more hate. The world does not need more negativity or fear-mongering. The world does not need posts on Yik Yak threatening of shooters or guns or massacres because, to be sure, these are not jokes. The world does not need sick jokes making light of very real instance of pain. Columbine. Aurora. Newtown. Umpaqua. Paris. Beirut. There are hundreds more, too many to list and many I haven’t heard about.

But what the world needs is more light. More love. More positive thoughts. More prayers to God, the Creator, Mother Earth, Allah, the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in. The world needs more thoughtfulness. More reflection before sending that post, that tweet.

So Yik Yak User, I feel no sympathy for you. I feel no sympathy after the fear you caused — however brief. But I do pity you. I pity you for whatever darkness you are fighting that caused you to make that post. I pity you for whatever negativity is eating at you that forced you to press the “post” button. I do hope you find peace. I hope you find the light inside you. I hope you realize the wrongness of your actions and feel remorse. Honestly, I don’t think you did this maliciously. I don’t think you meant to hurt anyone or truly cause a panic. Shock? Maybe. But full-blown terror? No. I don’t think you’re evil, probably just stupid (as much as I hate using that word to describe people).

I hope this incident is a wake-up call. I hope you find your light. And I hope you start putting more positivity into the world. God knows we need it now more than ever.


A Penn State Student


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This entry was posted on November 18, 2015 by and tagged , , .
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