DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Google, God, and Millennials

Written by: on November 9, 2019

When my daughter was young and she wanted something that I told her we could not afford, she would simply reply, “just go to the ATM, Mom”.  To my young daughter, born in the early 1980s, money was something that came out of the machine with the press of a few numbers, not something you worked hard for.  Today, the currency of information is taken from Google by only typing a few sentences. No need to add a question mark; Google knows you are here to query its never-ending supply of information, much like the idea of an endless ATM machine that never runs out of money.

Working in a scientific library at the US Patent and Trademark office, I train new patent examiners on how to research the inventions they are examining for patentability. Inventions are patentable until proven unpatentable (much like you are innocent until proven guilty in the legal sense). Therefore, it is up to the patent examiner to determine if the invention they are reviewing has already been invented or is an obvious variation of something invented. This is the reason patent examiners need to know how to research patent and other scientific databases that are built on Boolean logic.

However, the Millennials that are becoming professionals generally do not like the strategizing that must go in to developing Boolean searches, because they have grown up on Google. And Google knowing this, has developed its own patent database, Google Patents. Google Patents allows researchers to type in a query and find relevant documents. It also has a lot of bells and whistles that can be very helpful in researching. However, it is not necessarily as thorough as using a system with Boolean logic and should not be relied upon as the ultimate authority when researching.

Scott Galloway, in The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, compares Google to a modern-day god stating,

Prayers to Google, however, are answered. It offers to everyone, despite backgrounds or educational level if you have a smartphone (88 percent of consumers) or an Internet connection (40 percent), you can have any question answered. If you want to witness a small part of the staggering diversity of questions asked of Google in real-time go to google.com/about and Scroll down to “What the world searching for now” (Galloway 2017, 170).

Galloway believes users not just use Google to answers prayers or questions as they would ask a deity, but users also trusts Google as a God since it knows our deepest thoughts and intentions (Galloway 2017, 173). I would agree that many Millennials and those younger who have grown up using this tool trust Google as the best tool for the job even if they do not know how it works in the background. And this is a problem that is not limited to information on the job, but carries over to all aspects of life.

The characteristic of trusting Google as a definitive source for all information can translate to Millennials and those younger in searching for information about God. If Millennials and those younger are not taught how to discern the types of information found on Google, this can lead to confusion in what they believe about God. Nancy Falciani-White further describes this problem in her essay, Running with Perseverance: The Theological Library’s Challenge of Keeping Pace with Changing Students, stating:

This means that students are confronted by a tremendous amount of information in which they can easily become lost, as they link from a website to an article to another website to a blog. Unless they are taught how to evaluate the materials they find, they are no better off than they would be just searching Google. To a student who has had no formal evaluative training, there is no obvious distinction between a JSTOR article that they found through Google Scholar and a general website, and many would consider a popular blog to be a credible source of information. (Falciani-White 2008)

Perhaps Galloway is a bit dark and pessimistic in his description of the four powerful companies, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. At my job and at church I am trying to incorporate some of the tools provided by these companies. I have found that these tools can be a tremendous advantage in helping Millennials and those younger study and learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is up to those who are knowledgeable to help the generations coming behind how to use what may be meant for evil to do good.

References

Falciani-White, Nancy K. “Running with Perseverance: The Theological Library’s Challenge of Keeping Pace with Changing Students.” Theological Librarianship, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2008: 16-27.

Galloway, Scott. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2017.

 

About the Author

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Mary Mims

I am a licensed and ordained Baptist minister and have worked with the children and youth for the last seven years. I have resided in the Washington, DC area for the last 30 years, but I am originally from Michigan. I am also bi-vocational and work at the US Patent and Trademark Office in the Scientific Library.

8 responses to “Google, God, and Millennials”

  1. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    Mary – this is a great blog! I loved reading about how this connects to your daily work. It seems fascinating. I really appreciate your perspective on how we can use these tools to reach the generations, but we need to help them understand the WHY behind what they’re searching. Well done!

    • mm Mary Mims says:

      Thank you Karen. I recently had a Zoom meeting with some children I am preparing for baptism. I think we have to use what they use for the Kingdom of God. They are already using it anyway!

  2. mm Shermika Harvey says:

    Mary, you are so accurate that ”these tools can be a tremendous advantage in helping Millennials and those younger study and learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is up to those who are knowledgeable to help the generations coming behind how to use what may be meant for evil to do good.” I just had an conversation with a couple of my mentees about rightfully discerning they take from Rev. Google as truth of God’s Word yesterday. It’s a very interesting dynamic and an interesting time in leading this younger generation.

  3. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent post, Mary. I appreciate your expertise as an example of the importance of the generation before mentoring the generation now.

  4. Great post Mary, I like the way you relate the book to your work. It’s very easy for things to go wrong when such important expertise is not appropriately passed on to the next generation.

  5. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Thanks Mary. You touched on one of my irritations when teaching undergrad students about using in Google for research. I guess we covered it last year n those early books on Critical Thinking: the idea that what you read is not to be trusted until such time as you have validated it. The problem is, they validate with other websites that offer the same information – if it’s repeated twice it must be true. Getting them to read contrary views with equanimity of mind is near impossible. Unfortunately, Colleges don’t always encourage alternative viewpoints depending on their doctrinal or philosophical orientation. It’s great that you are working to mentor broader research.

  6. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Love this blog Mary . . . and poignant for all of us as we continue our research.

    Hope to find that magic ATM your daughter describes sometime!

  7. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Mary, for connecting Galloway’s approach to the four with the millennials who are the consumers of the four on a large scale. It is true that this is affecting the millennials not to think and be constructive at all. Google as God is a disaster for real. The churches are in trouble here.

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