What to make of The Four?
Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business’s, argues in his book, The Four: the hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, that ‘The Four’ have amassed abundant influence upon our lifestyles to enable our dependency upon them while dominating their growing share of the consumer market. While ‘The Four” have improved our lives in many ways, they act as if ‘they were guided by an idolatry of money.’ The Four have strongly influenced public decisions in their favor to avoid paying taxes, hiring very few employees, and finding ways to escape any significant public control. Galloway’s perspective as a successful entrepreneur in the digital era makes his arguments bold (salted with hip profanity) and convincing but also betrays him as well. The author’s vision of the world seems to be built upon the American business model as its epicenter. While he does question big business’ priorities and practices, he does not seem to bother much with the economic system itself and its inherent systemic structural failures. Currently, business practices consistently put profits above people. Perhaps, this is why Galloway concludes his book by alluding to how ‘The Four” gives insight into our digital age and greater capacity to build the reader’s economic security.
The Four is a book I found most interesting and read far more than I originally intended. However, I could not tell if Galloway was warning the reader of their influence and practices or was more enthralled with their unprecedented growth and market share metrics (after all, he is a marketing professor). Therefore, I tend to agree with the reviewer of this source and thought Galloway gave off mixed and at times, confusing signals to his readers. Galloway pronounces that his intent for the book was to help his students and readers “to gain insight and a competitive edge.” He contends that in the current economy of 2017, it has never been easier to become a billionaire, while never harder to become a millionaire. What does that statement even mean? This book left me feeling very conflicted.
I feel conflicted because I am not sure what to do with what I have gleaned from The Four. I found Chapter 7 “Business and the Body” most insightful in how successful businesses appeal to one of three areas of the body. Most insightful for me was how Facebook connects with our hearts and enables us to utilize Facebook tools to enhance our connection with others. This new insight helps to explain how irrational, and often unpleasant behavior is expressed on Facebook by otherwise (at least within the circle of people I know personally) thoughtful and caring Christians allegedly. All the more reason for me to leave Facebook once I have completed my Portland Seminary studies. These successful business connections have me thinking about the local church. That is, how and should it appeal or connect with the three areas of consumers’ “bodies?” Wow, I think I just answered my question!
 Filipe Domingues (2018) Four companies owning the future, Church, Communication and Culture, 3:1, 83-85, DOI: 10.1080/23753234.2018.1429222
 Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017), 12.
 Scott Galloway, The Four, 169.
 Scott Galloway, The Four, 177.
6 responses to “What to make of The Four?”
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I enjoyed reading your personal processing in real time! 🙂 I wondered, at times, what Galloway’s point was. I often thought he was spewing personal venom for being part of that which was consumed and wondered if he would have written differently if the Times had followed his advice and he had become part of that which he describes. I do wonder, Harry, if the church should be more aware and model a different way of life. Not as isolationists, but as conscientious and contented consumers.
I love the picture of the church modeling conscientious and contented consumers! I am going to chew a bit on that.
I was tempted to mention what you had noticed in Galloway’s attempt at settling on his intent for the book. The tone in his writing felt regretful, angry and somber, like he had just missed the biggest opportunity in his life. Tammy, pointed it out. The facts in the first 2/3 of the book were interesting but many times he was just ranting. However, I very much liked how he connected our deepest desires, being and worldview to how we treat our bodies. That’s why the Four Horsemen appeal to us with such religious fervor–it speaks to a fundamental part of who we are, our bodies.
I suppose you are right, prior to Galloway’s book I never thought about the connection of these firms and their products to our bodies. And you are so right about the religious fervor, oh my!
Great post! I enjoyed this portion of the book as well. People always wonder why these companies matter so much to people and it’s because they spend millions making sure they connect to the deep parts of us. The church doesn’t have millions nor do I think it needs millions because it has the message to do it.
Harry, I also found myself reading the entire book from cover to cover and found the relationship between business and our bodies very interesting. I wrote about the same in my blog. I find your question as to how and should the church appeal or connect to the three parts of the consumers’ bodies, is a fundamental question that may be of great help. Do you think this can provide some insights for church leadership?