Today we’re reviewing, discussing and giving away Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet. Keep reading to learn how you can win one of three signed copies.
When I first saw Len Sweet’s new book, Viral, I assumed it would be about how social media tools like Facebook and Twitter present an unprecedented opportunity to spread the gospel. While there is necessarily some reference to the tools, Sweet’s optimism for revival is based less on the technology itself and more on a seismic shift in the values and ways of thinking of people under the age of 40.
Gutenbergers and Googlers
Sweet draws a line in 1973, the year the cell phone was invented, and throughout the book refers to those born before 1973 as “Gutenbergers” and those after 1973 as “Googlers.” Gutenbergers are holdovers from the print era while Googlers are “digital natives.” According to Sweet, the differences between Gutenbergers and Googles goes far beyond their familiarity and comfort with the Internet and mobile devices. He writes:
Gutenbergers: It’s necessary to be right.
Googlers: It’s necessary to be in relationship.
Gutenbergers: God is in charge.
Googlers: God chose to be among us.
Gutenbergers: Capital campaign.
Googlers: Homeless campaign
Gutenbergers: Statement of faith.
Googlers: Life of faith.
Gutenbergers: Build something.
Googlers: Meet someone.
Gutenbergers: A culture of words and individualism that has lost its ability to propagate.
Googlers: A culture of images and relationships that breed virility, the petri dish of revival.
In Viral, Sweet is critical of Gutenbergers for being overly left-brained and focused on using words to debate, divide and isolate. Meanwhile he sees the right-brain dominance of Googlers as being more in line with how Jesus lived – telling stories, using metaphors and imagery, accepting mystery and paradoxes, and most of all pursuing relationships.
Sweet characterizes himself as a “digital immigrant,” someone who grew up in Gutenberg culture but has made the transition to the world of Googlers. Much of Viral seems to be an attempt to help those of his generation who are still holding on to their Gutenberger ways to understand Googlers and immigrate themselves to Googler culture. He also takes time, though, to point out the dangers and pitfalls that Googlers are prone to.
Overall, I found Viral to be very insightful and thought-provoking. While the underlying theme is about social media, the book is really a broader conversation about Christianity and culture. It’s not written specifically for techies but for anyone who wants to understand the cultural shifts taking place in our midst.
If you’re of the Goolge generation, you’ll enjoy reading Viral because it will validate the way you think and challenge you to live your faith more virally. And after you’ve read it, you’ll also probably feel an urge to “accidentally” leave the book on your senior pastor’s desk.
If you’re of the Gutenberg generation and maybe you still think social media is time-wasting drivel about what you ate for breakfast but you want to understand, connect with and empower the next generation, this is definitely a book you should read.
- Do you agree or disagree with the ways Leonard Sweet characterizes Gutenbergers and Googlers? Why?
- Do you share Leonard Sweet’s optimism for revival because of the social media tools now available and mindset of the Google generation? Why or why not?
Get a Free Book
Len Sweet has offered to make 3 signed copies of Viral available to Christian Web Trends readers. (Yea!) If you’d like one, all you have to do is
- Retweet this post or share it on Facebook, and
- Post a comment that addresses one or both of the discussion questions above (include your Facebook or Twitter usename in your comment so I can connect your comment to your share/tweet).
Three winners will be selected Friday (3/16/12) afternoon.
You can also purchase a copy through Amazon.