Old guy’s thoughts on generation Google

Bill Gepford writes about the generation born since 1973, called by Leonard Sweet the Google Generation.

Gepford sums up the characteristics of this generation as:

  • We don’t disconnect
  • We multitask
  • We expect information to come in multiple forms of media
  • We prefer graphics to text, and video to graphics
  • Finally, we are used to having everything at our fingertips whenever we want it

Now, this just makes me old, but my first conclusion based on this list is not that we need to go out and change the way we “do church” out of fear of sliding into irrelevancy.

My first move is to ask whether these things are good or not.

Just because a generation caught in the thrall of technology multi-tasks constantly does not mean multi-tasking is per se a good thing for a person to do while seeking to experience the Holy Spirit. Indeed, some research suggests that this generation suffers the same kinds of attention splintering effects of multi-tasking as previous ones. It just views that as normal.

My point?

It may be that lists such as Gepford’s are less an agenda for change and more a set of symptoms. The right question might not be “How do we adapt to these things” but “How do we de-toxify people enough that they can actually pray and worship?”

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7 thoughts on “Old guy’s thoughts on generation Google

  1. John,
    I have to agree with you when you ask if the embrace of technology is good or not. There are aspects of technology that are good – it has opened the aspects of technology far beyond what anyone could have imagined.

    But are those aspects the best that we can get?

    The Google generation may get its information faster and many different forms but is that information correct information or the best information available? My experiences suggest that it is not.

    And the manner in which the information is gathered doesn’t allow time for it to be processed. It almost makes the information superficial.

    It is like putting the church on-line and saying that this is the wave of the future. If we do put the church on-line and we make it more visual and more graphic, how will we have the interaction between people.

    Yes, I am interacting with you on-line but it is not in real time and there is no way for you or anyone who reads this to know if I am angry, upset, perplexed, or confused. If we were talking face-to-face or in a group, then one’s feelings would be more evident.

    I am not giving up on the technology. But I do not see the technology as the answer; rather, it is another tool that enables the human experience to expand.

  2. And this is one reader who is glad he read the removed post before the author reached the conclusion that he was an old crank 🙂

    Agreeing with Tony (I think) that we need to learn how to harness the technology in order to process the information we receive instead of being overwhelmed by it. In a multi-taking world, perhaps it is a function of the church, through worship, to provide us with a place where we have refuge and quiet in the face of the demands of an “instant on, instant gratification” society.

    Now, I hope that this reply relates in some form or fashion with the original post because this old crank forgot what you actually said.

    Have a good one.

    1. As you can see now, I reposted the original. After Dr. Tony chimed in, it seemed like readers should know what he was responding to.

  3. John (and friends)- Excellent questions. I did my best to answer them, at least briefly (www.billgepford.wordpress.com). In summary, however, I simply pointed out that we will have to understand this new norm if we want to do evangelism with the future generations (the new modes of language incorporate multiple senses – visual as well as audible). However, it is our job to draw people in to a God who is so awe-inspiring that even the most ADD driven kid (probably me) will be blown away and focus on one thing – Jesus.

    1. Bill,
      I agree that our job is to draw people to God through Jesus. But what I am afraid happens is that we get so caught up in the technology that we lose our focus. We spend more time on the “bells and whistles” than we do on the actual message.

      And what I think happens is that we confuse the “bells and whistles” with the message so much that we cannot even remember what the message is.

      There is also a technological divide. There was an article in yesterday’s (August 20th) St. Louis Post-Dispatch that pointed out that many of those who are unemployed and older are having problems because they do not have the computer skills of the younger workers. Shall we forget those in our churches who don’t have computers, don’t use all the fancy cell phones? Shall we assume that they will come along while we chase the newest “fad”?

      Thise technological divide is also an economical one. There is evidence that those in the lower economic levels don’t have the access to these new forms of technology. Should a church which is in a lower economic area spend its resources on things that the people need or things that everyone else has (that is sort of rhetorical)?

      And finally, who is going to keep the technology up-to-date? How many times have we stumbled on a website that hasn’t been updated in months or is no longer working? I found a location that had an e-mail address of mine that was five years old and that I don’t even use anymore.

      We do need to think about reaching out to more and more people. The hatred, anger, intolerance, and ignorance that are slowly enveloping this country and this world practically demand it. But if we believe that embracing the technology will do that, then we had better think again.

    2. Bill, thanks for coming by to comment.

      I hear you 100% on the need to draw people in. That is just like John Wesley going to a street corner and starting to sing hymns to gather a crowd.

      The issue is what we do once we have the crowd. Sounds like we do not disagree on that.

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