Is Christianity Right For Me?


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

I was fascinated to learn about how searches are changing on Google as people want more personalized answers:

We’re also seeing this personal advisor theme play out quite literally, as people are specifically including qualifiers like “me” and “I” in their searches. Over the past two years, mobile searches with the qualifier “for me” have grown over 60%. For example, consumers aren’t just searching for “best car insurance” anymore, they’re searching for “best car insurance for me.” Or, “which dog is right for me.”

Picking a dog might strike you as something a little emotionally advanced for search, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. People are also wondering what they should and shouldn’t do. Mobile searches with the qualifier “should I” have grown over 65% in the past two years.

“What should I get for lunch?” is something a person once would have asked a friend or coworker. Now it’s something they also ask of search. And we’re seeing this search data across categories. People are looking for advice about a range of things from personal hygiene (“How often should I wash my hair") to fairly substantial health and financial decisions like “should I go vegan” and “what kind of credit card should I get.”

Questions:

  • How does this affect our approach to evangelism with family and friends?
  • How does this affect how Connect could help someone find Jesus?
  • How can we lovingly demonstrate the parts of Scripture that work against this trend - that following Jesus involves sacrifice and community?

(Jimmy Sellers) #2

I mentioned this to my workmates and one of the responses was, is the data taking into account the possiblity of voice commands as opposed to the more traditional text commands as the method of inquiry? It is natural to ask a question with “I or me” as the subject. With the increased popularity of “ask Google”, “Alexa” and the like is this possibly the reason that people are personalizing there questions?


(Carson Weitnauer) #3

That seems plausible! The article doesn’t mention this as a casual factor. Alexa uses Bing, not google. Google Home has about 25% market share. I can see this accounting for some percentage of the increase.


(Jimmy Sellers) #4

@CarsonWeitnauer
I followed your link and noticed that 60% of mobile inquiries were personalized. I when to my phone and type in:

“which ************** is”___ (blank)

In the google suggestions (in the drop down below the search bar, within the top 5 suggestions “for me” by itself or as a possible personalized appendage was listed.

Which ************** is for me.

I tried four different categories including religion. I would hate to think that google might be the great assumption machine, but you never know. :grinning:
Is it possible that searches aren’t really changing but are being redirected by suggestion. This is a common sales technic.


(Carson Weitnauer) #5

That makes sense. From an old article on how Google works:

Popularity is a factor, but some less popular searches might be shown above more popular ones, if Google deems them more relevant, the company says. Personalized searches will always come before others.

A recent Wired article has a rather vague statement from Google:

These autocomplete suggestions aren’t hard-coded by Google. They’re the result of Google’s algorithmic scans of the entire world of content on the internet and its assessment of what, specifically, people want to know when they search for a generic term. “We offer suggestions based on what other users have searched for,” Gingras said at Thursday’s hearing. “It’s a live and vibrant corpus that changes everyday.”

It is a plausible link between Google nudging those results forward, promoting them on their blog, and doing so to encourage advertising dollars to flow.

Still… at the end of the day, we are being nudged, either by one another, or by Google, or both, to prefer personalized searches. How is that affecting us?


(Jimmy Sellers) #6

I agree. I do see a trend in marketing across all platforms that the personalization of services is what is being catered to. From home delivered u cook it meals to Netflix just for you viewing choices.
The possibility of showing that the God of the Bible has been in the business of personal service above and beyond our temporal needs should find a segue in the day today activities that we all participate in. Perhaps we could suggest the inventor of the weekend is also the inventor of personal and permanent redemption through Jesus Christ.


(Melvin Greene) #7

I can imagine how a conversation might sound between someone and Alexa:
“Hey, Alexa. Is Christianity right for me?”
Alexa: “Well, that depends on what kind of person you are.”
Someone: “Alexa, what do you mean by ‘what kind of person I am?’”
Alexa: “If you are the kind of person who would find great happiness to believe that an all powerful and all knowing God created the universe and everything seen and unseen; if you are the kind of person who would fine great comfort in believing that this God, out of a love that is above all human understanding, created each and every human being in His own image with a specific purpose, and who loved you so much that He would send His one and only son to pay the price of forgiveness for your sins; if you are the kind of person who would look forward with great joy to spend eternity with this great and awesome God in a place so wonderful and beautiful that it is beyond your imagination, then the answer to the question, ‘Is Christianity right for me?’ would be yes.”

“However, if you are the kind of person who prefers to believe that the universe and everything in it was just the product of random, unguided forces of nature; if you are the kind of person who would take comfort in believing that your existence has no meaning and no purpose and you are no more special than a pollywog dragging itself through a pool of slime with no more expectation than to get as far as it can before it dies and ceases to exist, then the answer to the question, ‘Is Christianity right for me?’ would be no.”
Someone: “Hmm. Thanks, Alexa. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
Alexa: “You’re welcome. The choice seems to be obvious to me, but what do I know? I’m just a machine?” :laughing: