Let’s be real: the internet can be so sucky sometimes. From harassing DMs, to the ever-constant pressure to be “perfect,” to passive-aggressive behavior, like when your friends post the one pic that you don’t like on Insta, the digital world can be a lot to face. And too often, it can feel like…well, there’s no one to turn to, no one to help you work through those challenges. You’re just supposed to take the good with the bad, both the hilarious Michael Jordan memes…and language that is often discriminatory, sexualized, and/or threatening.
That’s a reality I know all too well: my name is Trisha Prabhu, and like you, I’m a member of Gen Z, a 21-year-old college student. I’m also a proud anti-hate activist and Founder and CEO of ReThink, an app with the mission of eradicating online hate. My work first started when, at 13, I read a news story about a young woman who had been cyberbullied for over a year and a half. She’d received messages like “I hope you drink bleach and die,” and “the world would be better without you.” I was first shocked, then angry. This is unacceptable, I thought to myself. I need to do something. Thus began a months-long journey to find ways to reduce online hate. After a lot of research, hours and hours at the library, and something like a billion slices of pizza, the ReThink app was born. Today, if and when you try to say something offensive or rude online, ReThink will detect that, and prompt you to rethink the message (“Are you sure you want to post that?”). We all slip up now and then, but ReThink stops the damage before it’s done. Pretty ingenious, right? It may sound simple, but our research finds that over 93% of the time, ReThink works.
Through ReThink, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, and meet incredible young people from across the USA, Mexico, the UK, India, the UAE, the Caribbean, Suriname, and more. As diverse as those places are, there is, without fail, always one theme that emerges in my conversations with youth: frustration over a lack of resources about the internet and the problems young people face online. We literally spend hours on our phones and laptops every day but don’t have a by-youth, for-youth space to talk about it.
Correction: we didn’t have that space…until now! Welcome to the “Ask Trish” project. If you run into a tricky situation online and want some advice, you can send me a brief note. Every week, I’ll look through the notes, and create TikTok videos and blog posts (just like this one!) to respond to your questions! You’ll get practical advice, and together, we’ll get to spread some #InternetPositivity via ~fun~ content. Long-term, my vision is to build both 1) a fun, caring community of internet-positive people, and 2) a valuable anti-hate resource, with helpful knowledge, tips, and tricks. Over the course of the next few months, we’ll cover a range of topics — everything from cancel culture to navigating a friend’s rude behavior online. No topic is off-limits, so feel empowered to join the conversation.
Which reminds me: you can do that right here. Submit a question, comment, or suggestion — like I said, I really want to hear from you! If you’re comfortable, feel free to share some contact info. too; over the course of the project, I’d love to feature other youth voices/guest TikTok stars!
And with that, let’s get started! Here’s to the launch of “Ask Trish,” and building a better digital world.