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What Your Google Searches Say About Your Spiritual Life

What Your Google Searches Say About Your Spiritual Life

The following is a list of questions I have recently Googled:

How many calories are women supposed to eat every day?

If it’s been six days since our first date and he hasn’t called. Is he ever going to?

How do you relieve neck pain?

How do you know if you’re a control freak?

It is an amazing gift to have so much knowledge at our fingertips. But the other day, right after I Googled the fourth question on that list, I began to feel uneasy about my Google use.

Why am I asking Google this? I asked myself, as I scrolled through article after article with headlines like “7 Sure Signs You Are a Control Freak and Your Friends Hate You Because of It.” I’ve known for a while now that I have control issues in certain areas of my life (Most of us do, OK?). I don’t need Google to tell me this, which led to wonder, What am I really asking here?

Answering Life’s Questions

According to a study done at Yale University, the Internet is making us think we’re smarter than we are. As the study’s abstract explains: “Here we show that searching the Internet for explanatory knowledge creates an illusion whereby people mistake access to information for their own personal understanding of the information.”

But, “When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet … searching the Internet for information creates an increase in ‘cognitive self-esteem,’ though not necessarily an increase in intelligence.”

I think this applies to emotional intelligence and self-awareness as well.

At the heart of those questions I listed above are much deeper life questions. What I type into Google is simply a shallow version of them. I am beginning to worry that we, the generation that doesn’t remember life before the search engine, are growing dependent on Google not only for facts and directions, but also for a false feeling that our big questions are being answered, when actually, they aren’t.

Let me explain using the list above:

How many calories are women supposed to eat every day?

Real question: How does my body and health measure up compared to the standard?

If it’s been six days since our first date and he hasn’t called, is he ever going to?

Real question: Is he rejecting me, and if so, why? Is there something wrong with me?

How can I relieve neck pain?

Real question: Why am I anxious and how do I find peace?

How do you know if you’re a control freak?

Real question: Do I possess undesirable character qualities? Will others accept me?

Digging Deeper

If I ask Google the shallow questions, then I don’t have to ask myself the real questions. I would much rather Google “neck pain relief tips” than ask why I am feeling anxious in the first place. I would much rather read articles about how men communicate than ask myself if I am worthy of a man’s affection.

If we are living under this illusion that the big questions about our lives can be answered, then we are essentially living under the illusion that we, as the answer-bearers, have our lives under control. And when we have all the answers—and, therefore, all of the control—who needs a God? Who needs faith?

Some questions do not belong in the hands of Google. Some questions need to be asked of God, need to be reflected on and considered and discussed with people we trust. This may not be what culture tells us to do, but this is what the Bible tells us to do:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17-18).

I don’t know that I would describe the advice I find online to be “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy,” but that is exactly what deep down we are all craving: Real truth, real peace, even if that is found in an unanswered question.

The deeper versions of all of my Google questions above need time to be answered. They need truth found in Scripture, from the words of a friend or a counselor. Maybe our search histories are an indicator of our current insecurities. And insecurities are not solved on the Internet; they are often not solved at all, but they can be understood and prayed about.

Being a culture of answer-getters, it makes sense that not having answers would make us uncomfortable. But what if before we type our next question into Google, we asked ourselves why we’re about to ask what we’re going to ask? Is this a question for our search engine, or is this a question for our God?

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