Should we boycott the telephone and go back to morse code?
Scott Galloway invites his readers to peer behind the curtain, take on the burden of his bitter diatribe and cover the landscape of Amazon headquarters in picket signs. In short, his aim is to dismantle and deconstruct the progression of the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, aka: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. He believes that, “The Four are engaged in an epic race to become the operating system for our lives. The prize? A trillion-dollar valuation, and power and influence greater than any entity in history.” According to Galloway, this type of innovation is damning; however, as readers delve further into the text, it’s easy to see why he takes this view.
Every author paints a picture that is distinct because their brush stroke is intrinsic to their identity. The same is true for Galloway. His perspective is colored by his affinity towards socialism and middle-classism. He suggests, “If the rich have too much power; it can lead to an oligarchy. If the poor have too much power, it can lead to a revolution. So the middle class needs to be the rudder that steers American democracy on an even keel.” Trump might want to,make America great again ; however, Galloway wants to, make America middle again.
Each page beckons readers to remove their capitalistic ideals and embrace the socialistic identity of an agricultural past in the midst of a technological age. Galloway delves into each company and discusses the faultiness of their leadership; however, he also leaves a lot out of the conversation. The author reveals that, “Amazon’s growth will result in the destruction of 76,000 retail jobs this year.” Galloway asserts that this will occur because of the increase of robotics. However, this type of deconstruction is not just due to technological advancement, but of selfish CEOs. According to Forbes Magazine, “The layoffs and transfers will impact more than 30% of Verizon’s 153,100-employee workforce – as of the end of June – and are part of a 4-year plan to save the largest U.S. wireless carrier $10 billion by 2021.” Countless other companies are replicating the same tactics and lining their pockets with the extra change.
According to Galloway, “In 2018, we are in the midst of a dramatic market failure, one in which the government has been lulled by the public’s fascination with big tech.” However, I would strongly disagree. For instance:
Galloway believes that, “Instinct, coupled with a profit motive, makes for excess. And the worst economic system, except for all the rest – capitalism – is specifically designed to maximize that equation. Our economy and prosperity are largely predicated on other’s consumption.” Welcome to church – a hub of organizational presentations that engage our audience in exchange for financial and voluntary involvement. The church is highly capitalistic. Regardless of political views or personal preferences, pastors and leaders are constantly searching for ways to create, innovate and present programs that are driven by audience consumption.
Apple is driven by scarcity, luxury and high-level branding, making it the “first technology company to have a shot at multigenerational success.” How many of our churches exhibit similar traits? Millions of dollars are spent on production equipment, LED screens, smoke machines and ProPresenter software. After all, atmosphere and branding tap into the phycological senses of our audience. Brand consistency builds loyalty and trust, which in turn, creates a greater budget for the following year. “Luxury products have to be great. But they also signal status. They improve your procreational brand.” If you walk into any Hillsong Church anywhere in the world, you’ll see constancy in branding. The same is true for many traditional churches, i.e. alter, wooden pulpit, red carpets, etc.
Galloway suggest that, “No other media firm in history has combined Facebook’s scale with its ability to target individuals.” This means that pastors and leaders have the ability to target their ads and their message to individuals who are looking for a place to call home. According to Barna Research, “…three out of five church planters live on a household income lower than the national average.” Instead of another church plant, what if we used an already established platform? What if we used Facebook as our pulpit?
According to the author, “A bond of trust was created that has survived now for a generation and has made Google the most influential of the Four.” Galloway compares Google to a modern-day god; however, I fail to see why this is problematic. Skeptics are circling through endless articles looking for answers. Google isn’t a threat to the church, but an opportunity for the church to present answers. They also provide grants to 501c3 nonprofits in the sum of $10,000 per month in free advertising. Skeptics might not be entering our sanctuaries, but they are searching for answers. Isn’t it about time that we meet them there?
Just today, I witnessed over ten commercials that highlighted Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook; however, I didn’t witness a monopoly, but an opportunity.
Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, International ed. (New York, NY: Portfolio, 2018), 9.
William Petroski, “Trump: I Can Make America Great Again,” www.usatoday.com, January 24, 2015, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/24/trump-i-can-make-america-great-again/22277747/.
Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, International ed. (New York, NY: Portfolio, 2018), 50.
Jean Baptiste Su, “Verizon Lays Off 44,000, Transfers 2,500 More It Jobs to Indian Outsourcer Infosys,” www.forbes.com, October 5, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2018/10/05/verizon-lays-off-44000-transfers-2500-more-it-jobs-to-indian-outsourcer-infosys/#3c7ac33546f5.
Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, International ed. (New York, NY: Portfolio, 2018), 267.
 Ibid., 16.
 Ibid., 69.
 Ibid., Pg. 79.
Barna Group, “Church Planters and the Cost of Starting a Church,” www.barna.com, April 26, 2016, https://www.barna.com/research/church-planters-and-the-cost-of-starting-a-church/.
Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, International ed. (New York, NY: Portfolio, 2018), 129.
“Google Ad Grants,” www.google.com, accessed November 29, 2018, https://www.google.com/grants/.
7 responses to “Should we boycott the telephone and go back to morse code?”
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In response to your title – Yes, as long as I can still get free shipping for my morse code communicated orders from Amazon.
I like that fact that you have sought to encourage a different look at what these corporations can provide the church of the future rather than simply worry about the potential demise they will bring on society. Do you think this is an either/or proposition? Is there potentially room for concern while at the same time capitalizing on what these companies could provide?
Thank you, Dan!
haha! Wouldn’t that be interesting.
Organizations need to operate from the foundation of integrity; however, I found Galloway lacking in disclosing the full truth of the powerful Four. Yes, It’s disconcerting to think that Google could be placing tons of radiation in the air with their idea of wifi blimps; however, At&t and Verizon have already been linked and studied in regard to contribting to higher rates of cancer. It’s an ongoing journey of pros and cons.
I agree we can use the four to reach out to the world. I wonder what it would look like if the church, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, (Godtube instead of Youtube, Social Cross instead of Facebook, Worthy Links instead of Google) we used what has been proven and be Godly in our ways? Just a thought.
Thank you, Jason!
You bring up a great point! Too many Christian organizations have sought to overshadow secular competition, instead of tapping into their audience and opportunities. So far, I’ve yet to see organizations thrive that copy secular companies. For instance, I’ve seen many friends find the love of their life on Match.com in the Christian section. eHarmony and Christian Mingle are touted as the Christian orgs of dating; however, I’ve never known anyone to find these websites as useful as Match.com.
Great critical thinking skills on display in your post! And thought provoking, too.
What did all of the four have in common? Technology! My opinion there is no going back from our use of technology. Would you agree?
But with technology comes challenges–privacy being paramount. I pray that we don’t lose our collective souls while giving up our collective private information in droves…
But you make a point I appreciate, “opportunity to present answers” for the church, and I think you are really on to something there!
Thank you, Jay!
It was interesting to read everyone’s perspective on this text this week. You’re right. Technology is definitely sweeping the nation and revitilizing communities. However, it’s also a form of genetrification. More jobs are being brought in, i.e. marketing, tech, IT and AI engineering, but advancement is also killing other jobs as well. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are certainly changing the landscape of our backyards and our ministries.
Great point Colleen. I know its a tragedy when jobs are lost, but it also pushes the market on to greater things. Would I rather people lose their jobs or would I rather be in a mediocre market?