Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Tuesday, February 23, 2010]

Google vs. God

I saw this video and thought.... "Wow! How cool would it be to see the evolution of my searches over the years!"

Not 5 minutes later, I was perusing my Google reader, and came across this article by Tim Challies.

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia article about the event his article references:

On August 4, 2006, AOL Research, headed by Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, released a compressed text file on one of its websites containing twenty million search keywords for over 650,000 users over a 3-month period, intended for research purposes. AOL pulled the file from public access by the 7th, but not before it had been mirrored and distributed on the Internet. While none of the records on the file are personally identifiable per se, certain keywords contain personally identifiable information as a result of the original searcher typing in his or her own name (ego-searching), as well as address, social security number, and other personal information. And since each user is identified on this list by a unique sequential key, it enables a researcher to compile a given user's search history. The New York Times was able to locate an individual from the released and anonymized search records by cross referencing them with phonebook listings. Consequently, the ethical implications of using this data for research are under debate. AOL acknowledged it was a mistake and removed the data, although the files can still be downloaded from mirror sites. Additionally, several searchable databases of the report also exist on the internet.

So yeah... this story is almost 4 years old, but this was the first I heard about it... so there.

But this got me thinking... I wonder what Google's perspective of me is. He (for the sake of writing, Google is a man) has listened patiently to everything I've told him for YEARS! He has kindly and efficiently replied each and every time to the best of his ability to provide me with the answers I was seeking. If Google could reply to me, offer commentary on our "conversations," what would he say?

Then I read things like this progression of searches over time from one specific Anonymous searcher:

chai tea calories
calories in bananas
aftermath of incest
how to tell your family you're a victim of incest
pottery barn
surgical help for depression
oakland raiders comforter set
can you adopt after a suicide attempt
who is not allowed to adopt
i hate men
medication to enhance female desire
jobs in denver colorado
teaching positions in denver colorado
how long will the swelling last after my tummy tuck
divorce laws in ohio
free remote keyloggers
baked macaroni and cheese with sour cream
how to deal with anger
teaching jobs with the denver school system
marriage counseling tips
anti psychotic drugs

And my heart breaks.

As Challies mentions in his article...

What is so amazing about these searches is the way people transition seamlessly from the normal and mundane to the outrageous and perverse. They are, thus, an apt reflection of real life. The user who is in one moment searching for information about a computer game may in the next be looking for the most violent pornography he can imagine... These searches are a glimpse into the hearts of the people who made them.

Think about the massive weight that Google would be under if he were actually a human confidant of such information! How could ANYONE handle this?

One way of dealing with our meaningless cares and desires on one hand and our deepest darkest trash at the same time is to be an emotionless being who cared nothing at all about what happened to us. This is the picture of what Google actually is. It is designed to answer, not care. It is designed to produce results, not fix the problem.

However, what if there was a being that cared so greatly for your concern about the "kanye west vs. taylor swift" stuff AND cared to the same degree about your "why shouldn't i commit suicide" stuff? What would that look like to you? What if instead of getting a result that led you down a path that you can never be sure of, there was a being whose sole purpose was to take your shortcomings and mold them, restore them, fix them to where you look beautiful in his eyes? But not only his eyes, but your eyes as well. Can you imagine being in a place where that search history is gone? Totally wiped away? No more do you have to deal with the shame about that time in grade school where this thing happened that you can't talk to anyone about.

This is the picture of Jesus Christ. Jesus endured the weight of all our multitudinous ramblings -- good, bad and in-between. He carried it all for us on the cross where he died WITH them, and was raised victorious OVER them a few days later.

John Bunyan in Pilgrim's Progress creates a wonderful picture of this:

Christian ran till he came to a hill; upon it stood a cross, and a little below was a tomb.

So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the tomb, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

...and I saw it no more.

Google is a great tool that I use hundreds of times a day. I love Google. But it is inadequate for what we are most deeply using it for. Only the offer of Christ can satisfy what our hearts are most deeply looking for... we don't want answers at our deepest level. We want to be complete. We want to know that we are OK and that we are loved. Unfortunately, Google does not love us. Fortunately, Christ DOES love us... even with all our junk, trash, darkness and pain.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8


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