Texting and Consequences

Steve and I are in our in our office today in Holliston, MA! It's a very exciting day because we finally have a location geotag on Instagram! Woohoo! 

We were talking about the current Massachusetts case with the young girl who was convicted of manslaughter, and then we decided to write a blog post on it. There was no way this was going to be an easy case. Steve made a vlog (above) about his thoughts on the case, and I am having a difficult time coming around to a specific viewpoint on it. The fact that there are consequences even when you're texting is something to think about for adults AND teenagers. Steve thinks the court made the absolute right decision because in the future, there shouldn't ever be a situation where a teen girl can get away with telling someone to kill himself. She encouraged him to kill himself. 

Parents; if you have a teen who is suicidal; you need to get involved. You're responsible for monitoring them. Don't think that it's just the schools job. For teens; the power of words and what you say to others can have very negative consequences. If you know someone who needs help, sometimes you have to reach out to them and not wait for them to reach out on their own.

We'd love to hear your thoughts- leave them below! 

Guest Post: Teens on Social Media

Today, we have a guest post from an awesome teen girl, Elizabeth, from Princeton, New Jersey!

Social media, which has become ubiquitous in today's society, feels to me both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, these networking sites, particularly Snapchat and Instagram, facilitate connections. I love that I can keep in contact with friends who have gone to college or who have moved away. Furthermore, I am addicted to the "Snapchat Discover" page- it's how I get all of my news! I think what's great about receiving information through this channel is that it comes in small doses; in the middle of a busy day, I rarely have ample time to read a long article, but the engaging, interactive nature of the Discover displays permit me, and many of my friends, to remain informed about topics that pique our interests.

My personal favorites are the Food Network, Cosmopolitan, and Refinery 29 stories.

Carly, a close friend and high school junior, summarizes the benefits of social media: "Social media allows me to stay in touch with family and friends and stay in touch with the world at large. Without it I do not believe I would be nearly as up-to-date on national and global issues as I am with it." In stark contrast, constantly being exposed to the "perfect" lives presented by celebrities and peers can not only lead to feelings of inadequacy, but can also be overwhelming. Among my friends, I am known as the girl who will delete the Snapchat app at least twice a month, because "I'm just so tired of it." (Am I the only one who finds maintaining streaks completely exhausting?!)

Gwen, a high school sophomore, concurs that social media can have detrimental effects, citing stunted social and communicative skills. Overall, sites such as Instagram play a critical role in the social hierarchy of our generation. "It's how I find everything out, which is both good and bad," says Bridget, also a high school junior. All of this is not to say that social media is some sort of evil construct designed to hone in on our insecurities and prey on our jealous instincts. However, it is to say that once in a while, it's nice to take a break. You can start by deleting Snapchat from your phone, like me, or take the full plunge and completely power down for a day. At first, it's definitely scary to be so disconnected, but it's so worth it. 

Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for sharing your thoughts on social media. We hope to have you back on the blog soon!

How Body Shaming Hurts Everyone

We are officially on YouTube! See our first video above. Next week, we will feature a video with our co-CEO, Steve! Watch it here.

What people don't know about Steve and Alexa is that they have both had their fair share of hardship. Part of the reason they decided to team up and create M.I.N.T. was because of their own personal struggles. 

It's important to bring awareness to actions like the power of words and body-shaming. As you seen in '13 Reasons Why' something as minor as words can really hurt someone. Body-shaming is just as bad as physically harming someone, and occasionally, worse. Young adults are learning who they are on their own terms, and harming them with negative words makes it harder for them to find out who they are. The next time you are thinking of putting someone down, you should think again. 

If you ever put someone down behind a computer screen, you don't know the repercussions and how they might react. It is better to avoid mean words at all instead of using the Internet to get a point across.

Talking to teens about their bodies is a very sensitive subject, and made even harder if they have body image issues. We advise not talking to your teens about their body in a negative way, and if you have concerns, bring it up to their doctor. There is no harm in talking to a young adult about their body, but doing it negatively can have a lasting impact that can severely hurt them. 

Social Media Vacation

One of the misconceptions we find with M.I.N.T is that people think we are going to advise them to get rid of social media altogether. While we know the pitfalls of social media, we also know and understand the importance of social media for personal connection, as well as businesses. I think of Alexa as the poster child of the use of social media in order to develop her business and more importantly, her message and her dream.

But have you ever taken a vacation from social media? What I mean by that is to not deal with social media for a full day or week or month. 2 years ago, I did not deal with social media as a practice of mindfulness, as well as a spiritual connection to my belief system. While difficult, there was several benefits, most importantly my connection to my children. I also called people and chatted about them and not happenings.

As I prepare for a week off to be with my children, I want to remain in the moment with them. So for the next week, I will get on social media a maximum of 5 times. My goal is to make those interactions related to my business or to connect to friends who have messaged me, not to check the happenings, the pictures, etc. I really want to stay in the moment and realize how beautiful life is.

I also want to realize that in life, we don’t have much else but the moment. Social media makes us look at the past or the future but it keeps us from the moment we are living right now. I want to be with my kids, not “Jane” and her pictures from her shoot. I want to discuss the last thing we saw together with my kids and have fun with it, not disagree at length with someone I barely know.

So for the next week, you want to connect, send me a personal message at stevebissonlmhc@gmail.com and let’s talk about you, me but not others, situations, or your work. All we have is today. Live it!

13 Reasons Why

What is the latest and greatest show around right now? 13 Reasons Why. Here we list the Reasons Why (corny but cute) we love this show!

1. Parents Vs. Teens

- We love the difference between parents and teens in this show. Most parents didn't have social media when they were in school, so they didn't witness how much social media can truly affect a young adults.

2. Talking

- Many suicides occur because people don't start talking. If we could get more young adults to talk to a therapist, their friends, or even family, they wouldn't feel as alone. You can always get through something with someone else, even though it may not feel like it.

3. The Power of a Picture

- The main character, Hannah, felt victimized and became depressed from a "sext" that circulated of her. She wasn't even naked, nor had she been having a sexual relationship with the boy, yet kids believed this one picture. It's hard to know what someone will do with a picture they take of you, but always keep your wits about you.

4. Where Will We Be in Five Years?

- 13 Reasons Why premiered at a perfect time, because parents and young adults are slowly beginning to realize how social media can truly make or break someone. But it also makes us think- where will this generation, and new generations, be in a few years from now?

5. Can You Stop It?

- The real question is can you prevent this to happening to someone you love? Do you know the symptoms? Do you know someone who you feel may do something like this?

If you do, please tell someone. Please alert someone you know, or sit down and talk to the person. You may not be able to help them, but you can tell them that you will always be there to listen. No problem or sadness is worth ending your life over.

Internet vs. Real Life

When we speak at a school, many people ask us if we think they should stop using social media altogether. Some of our technique may come across that way, but rarely do we ever suggest people stop using social media. For Steve and I, social media has helped grow our businesses drastically. Without the power of the Internet, we wouldn't be where we are today. We also wouldn't have our own experiences with social media and mental health.

Much of what you see on the web isn't real. From photoshopped images in magazines and media, to people altering their bodies using apps like FaceTune, how can you figure out what is real and what's not real nowadays? We try hard to show teens the difference between one of the pictures above compared to what they see on a magazine cover. The difference is shocking, and disappointing, for many young adults who are learning to love who they are. 

When you try to compare yourself to someone else, you simply stop yourself from accepting who you are. Instead of trying to look like a girl on a magazine cover, realize that that girl has her own struggles, too. Everyone has something- but you usually won't know what someone else is struggling with unless they tell you. 

Our suggestion? Use the Internet wisely, and don't get too obsessed with the image that you might feel like you have to portray.

Be yourself- you're always good enough.


Compassion and Love


Do we overshare on social media? It is an interesting question and concept when you think about it.

We tell people how we feel about lots of things: from your Aunt Marie’s new haircut (heart, thumbs up) to the news out of your favorite political party (Yes!) or the opposition (clearly, they don’t get it). We also show indifference to certain people’s news and we then celebrate or vilify the little things of a former acquaintance we haven’t talked to or seen in years.

It helps define our views of others, as well as ourselves and also helps shape the circle of social media friends we have around us. It is a good way to also let others know where we stand and how you are a firm believer of whatever you. Social media lets us express ourselves freely and openly and this can be very rewarding and uplifting. IT is you, it is a voice, a way to let others know who you are and your stance on just about everything.

But is it something we should be doing? I think it is so easy to say what we want but it also brings less understanding of other points of view sometimes. We ignore certain things others may say as to not offend, or hurt or deal with the consequences. Sometimes, we speak up, where we feel it needs to be done and may be beneficial for others to know how you feel. This can cause conflict where we start getting more passionate and entrenched in our beliefs of what we said. But is this a good way to show compassion?

I think that we are allowed to say what we want but we also got to understand not everyone in our circle of friends will like, be pleased, or feel the same way about what we post. And we need to lear that this is OK. There is a place for a great dialogue in our new way of communicating, without name calling or standing so firm in our beliefs that it costs us a very important thing: our humanity.

This is not to say to not disagree or talk to the other person. We need to communicate it in a more compassionate way. Suggestions include:

-avoid all or nothing thinking: we don’t always need to prove our point. Sometimes, others will bring in another point of view. Don’t dig deeper in your trench but be curious about their point of view

-agree to disagree: I am a firm believer that root beer barrels are the best candy ever. Why should I fight with someone who posts a picture of Swedish Fish? I know this example is somewhat trivial but think about just agreeing on disagreeing on the other stuff too. No attacks are needed

-look at it empathically: we lost this skill on social media. Walk a mile in that person’s shoes and see where they are coming from. Maybe, from their point of view, the opposite of your beliefs can ring true for them.

- where is the common ground?: in all disagreements, there could be a common ground. That does not mean we agree on something, but we can find a place where we can all agree.

Show compassion for others and yourself on these platforms, it may just open your eyes. The whole “You are with us or against us” is a fallacy.