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The Google Effect

By July 29, 2011August 30th, 2022Devotional

Every once in a while, some new concept comes along that catches my attention. Recently, there has been a phenomenon that has made headlines; about studying people and their memory capacities. According to those who are experts in these areas, it seems that our ability to remember things is diminishing. And that is for one simple reason – we don’t need to remember as much because we can have access to any kind of information we want or need in an instant. Due to the technological advances that are happening at lightning speed and, in large part, to search engine capabilities on the internet, the experts tell us that we forget stuff faster than we used to. On top of that, the amount of global information is doubling every 18 months! What are we supposed to do with that?

And in fact, they now call it, “The Google Effect.” When I stop to think about it, I believe the experts are right. We tend not to remember things we can look up on the spur of the moment. And, at some level, that really scares me. Google’s market value is staggering, and they have even launched a social media initiative to compete with Facebook. Google’s stock is climbing through the roof; and I read yesterday that their value has increased $45 Billion in the last 30 days. That’s almost half the total value of Facebook, and there is no end in sight. All because we have trouble remembering things; or don’t spend the effort to study at a deep level on our own.

Now I’m not a big investor and I don’t study this stuff, but this information hit me square in the face. Because I don’t remember as much as I used to either – I struggle with Scripture references at times and am not as deeply ingrained in the Christian culture as I was when I was in seminary. That really bothers me quite a bit.

In school, you are surrounded by people who study God, pray, encourage, inspire and mentor Christians with the intent of eventually sending them out to serve God to the outermost reaches of the earth. And truthfully, it is like living in a bubble. A great bubble. I have never been around as many devout, dedicated men and women in my life. It is easy to get used to. You are constantly engaged in conversations about every imaginable Biblical topic and doctrine; and it is all so fresh in your mind that you don’t forget it. You use this newfound knowledge every day. Then you graduate and it all ends.

In a very real sense, the bubble bursts. You re-enter the real world and suddenly you are exposed to all the stuff you were sheltered from during your studies. And when you are not studying intently each day, you tend to lose it. Know what I mean? You get caught up using the same resources, such as Google, and before you know it, you are depending on the internet to write sermons, translate the Greek, interpret the Hebrew and do all the things you were trained to do individually. In seminary, we called such resources “cheaters.” Unfortunately, today, many pastors use them.

Some of you might be thinking that this doesn’t make any difference – but it does to me. I am astounded at the number of cases I hear about when pastors plagiarize sermons from the internet and claim the work as their own. Or the amount of information that is just not accurate, but people don’t check the sources of their material. I take my responsibility to deliver God’s accurate word very seriously, but I am distracted by how easy it is to forget stuff and depend on the internet to make up for my deficiencies.

That’s one reason this blog is so important to me. Although it takes quite a bit of time each evening, and it really does, it causes me to study each day and make sure the verses and information I pass to you in each post are accurate and in the Spirit of the Lord. I contact my former professors and classmates and try to stay close to them. But I’m not only doing that for others – there is a selfish motive. I want to make sure that I don’t get disconnected from people in my life who are devout and who will pray for me and help me grow in my faith. I hope that TBTB helps to provide that assistance to others.

The verse tonight is an confirmation of what God instructs us to do. In Deut 11:18-20, Moses writes, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…”

In other words, keep the word of God fresh in your hearts and make sure that you teach your children in the ways of the Lord. Don’t depend on the search engines of the world to find information when you need it. The big message of Deuteronomy is to “remember” the history of God’s people and their relationship with God. Don’t succumb to the “Google Effect.”

My encouragement tonight is to continue to study the Bible and be dedicated to learn more about God. Because only through this ongoing effort can you deepen your relationship with Him. And my prayer is that God will reveal Himself in deeper ways to you and your family. Then, you can really experience the full impact of the “God Effect.” Grace and Peace,

One Comment

  • John Schorle says:

    What a thought provoking topic, which got me thinking. Am I remembering less? Do I care? Should I care? So I spent some time thinking about it. I read the article in the Journal of Science that seems to be what sparked some of the headlines. After reading it, I am less worried that I have fried by brain by using Google. What I got out of it was that people are less likely to retain information if they know there is a source they can reference to get the information again. It also said that people are better at remembering where a piece of information is stored. Peopled still tended to remember if they did not believe it could be found on an external source such as personal items. Wow, this is very interesting, but then I thought is it really new phenomenon. What I found is that in 1985 Daniel Wegner came up with a theory called Transactive Memory. ( So is Google to society as your group of classmates were to you? Could it also be thought of as the world’s largest filing cabinet? Some things aren’t meant to be remembered; that is why I file them, but I do remember that I filed them in the cabinet.
    Plagiarism is wrong, but hey, Google can solve that also. Accuracy is also very important, but is it really any different that it has ever been? When using the internet, I need to make a judgment on whether the source is credible. In some cases I may need to directly access the source material. It is the same for you, when you look something up. You can determine from your experience if the source is credible or if you need to reference the source – “The Bible”

    I completely agree with you that it is important to study the Bible and to learn more about God. Without that I never even acquire the knowledge to put into my infinite filing cabinet and I am not saying if that is my brain or if it is Google.

    I hope all is well, I enjoy reading your blog daily and as always, say hi to Aunt Janet.


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