• Nicole Gresen

No Sleeping, No Sitting...But Lot’s of Posting: A Look Into The Digital Side of Penn State THON

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

If you have attended Penn State University, or know someone who has, you have probably had the opportunity to participate in Penn State THON. This is our 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting (but LOTS of singing) dance marathon where students raise money to help fight pediatric cancer. Penn State THON is something I’ve had the privilege of being apart of for the past three years. This year I’m honored to say that I was elected as a “dancer.” That means I will be standing on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center for all 46 hours representing my sorority in a sea of over 15,000 students.

Every year we raise over 10 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund. In this day and age, an accomplishment like that wouldn’t be possible without social media platforms. The impact that the digital media sphere has on THON is astonishing to me. The constant activity we partake in each day leading up to the weekend, especially promoting our Penn State Donor Drives, has a huge impact on the outcome of THON each year.

With platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, students can get the word out with the simple click of a button. Posting pictures of ourselves at THON, urging friends and family to donate, and directing them to our Donor Drive makes it almost impossible not to donate. With the media, promo videos and highlights of the weekend can now be shared with the whole world. Penn State students are so passionate about this dance marathon and deserve to be acknowledged for all the good that comes with it.

Social media often acts as a connecting factor between individuals. It's true that sharing our stories of why we THON are now more efficient, but there is no denying social media also inhibits us from living in the moment for those 46 hours. Students show up, their phones come out, pictures are taken and an hour later they leave. Media platforms will be filled with photos of THON for weeks, claiming how life-changing it was…but how do we know who was actually present? As much as we love to have the memories a picture can provide, the best part about THON is seeing it for yourself and soaking up every. single. moment.

For those who will get to experience Penn State’s THON this year, hug your best friend, look around the BJC and take it all in. Play with that child who needs cheering up, dance like no one is watching, sing your heart out, be grateful for what we have in this life and remember: always and forever For The Kids.

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