David Lowry, professor of communication at Oklahoma Christian University, challenged students in his Media, Faith and Culture class to create a project, which uses media for good.
According to sophomore Taylor Emerine, the instructions for the project were to meet a human need, hold and document a public event and present it later in class. Students are currently working on the assignment in in groups and will turn it in by Oct. 31.
“The group had to pick several words or phrases that met a human need,” Emerine said. “The words my group picked were creativity, peace of mind and love. We thought the easiest way to reach people and give people a chance to spread love is to write an encouraging note.”
Emerine said her group came up with the idea of Project Happy Gram, which entails writing an encouraging thought or scripture on a piece of paper and dropping it in a box in the Brew.
Freshman Ashlyn Brown, a member of Emerine’s group, said they reinvented an event one of the group members had experienced called “candy grams,” where participants have candy delivered to specific people.
Brown said the happy gram messages are anonymous, and the members of the group will deliver the messages randomly in order to brighten someone’s day.
“We changed it purposely so that rather than a select few get encouraging messages, anyone and everyone can receive one,” Brown said. “Our goal is simple, but important. We want to spread happiness. I think people don’t realize the kind of impact something, even as small as a card with kind words, can have on a person. We want everyone on campus to have a little happy in their day, because we know that college can be stressful.”
Junior David Young said his group is setting up an event for people to sign up for a time to disconnect from their devices and connect with someone new.
“We altered the set of questions to focus more on general connection,” Young said. “This is something that we wanted to do, because we believe that we all live in the most connected age of all of history, but most people don’t even know or talk to the people around them.”
According to Young, his group hopes the project will open people’s eyes to the idea of talking to new people around them, instead of being absorbed in technology.
“We want to break down the digital wall we have all been creating over the years,” Young said. “I hate that people are surprised when someone talks to them. It should be common, not uncommon.”
Both Emerine and Brown said they see value and importance in the assignment, which promotes the use of media for a good purpose. According to Brown, media is powerful in American culture, and Oklahoma Christian students need to spread as much good as they can.
“Usually all we see is media shaming people,” Emerine said. “It’s a really important time in our lives as college students to help make a difference in our community, school and the world by using media for good.”
Young said he thinks using media for good will help give people a necessary reality check amidst devastations depicted by media outlets.
“I think it is important to use media for good because it helps to show people that the world is not actually going to blow up,” Young said. “We live in the safest time in human history, but if you just look at the news, you would think we lived in the most volatile time.”
Freshman Kate Rampy said her group decided to write messages on balloons and hand them to people in order to brighten people’s moods.
“Using media for good is important because media is everywhere and as often as we see it, it would be nice to scroll through our Twitter or Instagram feed and find some positive messages and good vibes, rather than a mess that may be destructive or negative,” Rampy said.