Are you a Gutenberger or Googler?

That’s a weird question, right? But it’s one that Leonard Sweet explores in his book, Viral: How Social Networking is Poised to Ignite Revival. As a loose categorization, Sweet defines a Gutenberger as anyone born and raised before the rise of the digital age, and a Googler is anyone born and raised during the present digital age.

At the risk of being too specific, a Gutenberger is anyone born before 1980 and a Googler, anyone born after 1980.

That means (gulp), I’m a Gutenberger (born in 1979).

But that’s not a bad thing because it means I identify with 92% of my readers. In other words, I see where you’re coming from. I’m a Gutenberger. I remember the days when kids played outside with marbles in the dirty or with Ninja Turtle action figures on the doorstep of my friends house. I remember walking around the yard on a hot sunny summer day with a magnifier in hand looking to roast an army of ants.

But I’m no stranger to living on a border.

As a Canadian citizen living on the Windsor border attached to Detroit by the Ambassador Bridge, I often feel more American than not, eh? I’m captured by American politics more than Canadian politics. I’m more engrossed in American concerns than with Canadian ones. I’m more at home travelling through Michigan than I am travelling through New Brunswick (I speak more Spanish than French – but not much of either).

And I also live on the border of our cultural divide between Gutenbergers and Googlers. I’m a Gutenberger. But in many ways I feel more at home with Googlers.

From the early days of the internet I quickly got myself a passport into the Googler’s nation so that I can travel freely. And just as the American culture in many ways dominates Canadian culture, the Googler’s culture dominates our world such that Gutenbergers are struggling to find how to fit in.

That’s odd.

It really is the first time in history where a culture is led by the younger generations.

Typically the younger generations have tried to figure out how to be grown-up. How to live and get a career and function in an adult society.

But with social media, the Googler’s generation are leading the way. They’re making up their own rules. They’re defining everything from commerce to politics to social justice. And they’re doing it without a care or concern – and often without wisdom and guidance – from the older generations.

Social media has given them a platform and they’re going to use it.

If you are reading this and happen to be a self-identified Gutenberger, understand this: you are needed.

Your wisdom, your experience, your mild temperament are needed now more than ever. We Googlers (see what I did there, I truly identify with the Googlers world), we need you. We may not know it or often acknowledge it, but it’s true.

Sometimes I’ll talk to Gutenberger’s who see social media as a complete waste of time. They don’t get it. They don’t understand it. They can’t get past its inherent dangers. They see it as newfangled technology and they long of the good ‘ol days before everyone went cyber.

I really get that. I understand where you’re coming from.

But for heaven’s sake, for the sake of Googler’s everywhere, please know that we need you to plug in. We need you – just as we need the Church at large – to go digital. To connect with us and lead us online as much as off-line.

Or let me put it this way. If you try to lead us off-line, and maintain a negative attitude toward our online culture, you won’t be able to effectively lead us either online or off.

That the World May Know

Our church used to show a video series called That The World May Know where Ray Vander Laan would travel to locations found in the Bible and explain biblical text from the historical perspective how God was engaging the culture of that time. Not only where they powerful videos that really pulled out a deeper meaning of the scriptures. But they also showed how God used the technology and tools of that period to make a huge impact in the world for His Kingdom.

Let me ask you this: If your story was written in biblical times, do you believe that God would expect you to leverage social media for his Kingdom? I think the answer to that is yes. Yes He would.

I have no doubt at all that Paul would be an avid Twitter user. Peter would be on Facebook for sure. John would be show love though photos with Instagram. Mary would be spreading Jesus’ message with Pinterest. James would be a social justice blogger.

You might be a Gutenberger. But that’s all the more reason for you to jump into the digital space and lead as Christ has called you to.

That the world may know. That the younger generations – the Googlers – would find leaders among the Gutenbergers who are willing to set up camp in the Googler’s world. To learn the language. To become ambassadors for God’s Kingdom in this digital age.

Question: What social media platform to you use to impact this world for God’s Kingdom and why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • I always hate when these firm age lines are set. Born in the 70s, I had my first computer at 6 years old; I was part of online discussions and chat groups at 10 through a BBS called Q-link, and was up and running a webpage shortly after the WWW hit AOL in the early 90s. My family were early technology adopters. I’m definitely a googler – no question about it. Nowadays I google everything that comes to mind in my life, discuss everything with everyone online, and try to avoid paper books because they take up too much space, filling up my kindle instead.

    • I agree Heather. That’s why I used the phrase “loose categorization” and “at the risk of being too specific…” But sociologists can’t help themselves. 🙂