When we started Think Before You Type (TBYT) in 2012, Victoria was 14 and Lauren was 16. At the time, we were teenage sisters who had recently observed the negative effects of cyberbullying on our peers and wanted to do something to change that. One night, we sat down to talk about the cyberbullying that we saw on social media, and the idea for TBYT was born. Now, almost 8 years have gone by, and so much has happened in our lives as individuals, as well as in the world around us. However, in that time, the core foundation of our organization and the mission we are working towards have not changed at all. Our goals are still to raise awareness about cyberbullying, promote positive self-esteem, and encourage people to use the internet for good, and we are just as passionate about our work as we were when we began, if not even more so.
We still want to change the world and believe that we can with the right tools, though we know that we cannot do it all on our own. We still want to show young people (and people of all ages) that they can change the culture online and the world around us with acts of kindness both big and small. There is still a need for our work and for motivated people to be committed to it. At the end of the day, our ultimate goal is to help make the internet a kinder, more welcoming place than it was when we decided to start TBYT.
In our time maturing from teenagers to young adults, the most influential change in our lives has been related to the continuation of our academic studies. When we started TBYT we were technically still both high school students, though Lauren was quickly approaching graduation. Since then, we both have graduated from college and are currently medical students pursuing careers as physicians. During college, we were able to work with various groups at our universities to share our mission through interviews, videos, and presentations. In medical school, learning how to care for and serve patients has definitely made an impact on how we view the issue of cyberbullying. During Lauren’s clinical rotations, she was able to start to examine the impact that physicians can have in educating young patients and their parents about the issue of cyberbullying, and she even had the opportunity to develop a presentation to help resident physicians become more familiar with the issue of cyberbullying. Finding ways to tie together our love and passion for medicine and our work with TBYT has been an exciting new challenge for us, and we look forward to continuing to do so in the coming years.
Since 2012, public awareness and discussion of the issue of cyberbullying have seemed to increase. Yet, we continue to struggle with the issue, and there is much work that still needs to be done. That is why we have made it a priority to carry on with our work over the years. Each interview that we conduct with influential individuals about our mission, post that we make on social media, and video dare that we share encouraging viewers to do something positive for themselves and for those around them, is an opportunity to connect with others and inspire them to make a difference.
We set out to make the internet a kinder place, and we are incredibly passionate about continuing that mission. We hope that you will join us in leaving things better than how we found them.