Do you remember the Columbine shootings ten years ago? Do you recall how amazed we were that the students were using cell phones to call their parents from inside the school? The proliferation of cell phones was a new development, and we were stunned at the capability of communications during a hostage situation.

Looking back, our previous astonishment seems quaint now. The leaps and bounds of technology in the past ten years are unprecedented. Here are nine examples of how the communication available through the internet is changing our world.

1. A middle-aged frumpy Susan Boyle auditions for Britain’s Got Talent, wows the judges, and then becomes a sensation on YouTube. This Fall, her debut album sold more copies (700K) its first week than the new releases of Whitney Houston (305K) and Mariah Carey (168K) combined.

2. An unusual wedding entrance becomes a YouTube sensation. Weeks later, the nation’s top-rated comedy, The Office, incorporates the idea into the wedding for main characters, Jim and Pam.

3. A young woman in New York named Julie Powell decides to spend a year cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She starts a blog as a journal. The popularity of her blog leads to a book deal and eventually a popular movie that tells the story of her life and Julia Child’s in parallel.

4. Jason Sadler wears a different T-shirt every day and blogs about it. Companies pay him for the publicity. He makes 83K a year. Who said you couldn’t make money using social media?

5. More and more companies are cutting back on travel and starting to use Skype for conference calls and job interviews. Skype is also changing the way immigrants think about their new country. The USA and EU are no longer “melting pots,” but more like “mosaics” as people from other cultures move in and maintain close ties and frequent video communication with friends and family at home.

6. Politicians are utilizing Twitter as a way of keeping lines of communication with their constituents (and fans). Sarah Palin has more than 35,000, Karl Rove 95,000, and Barack Obama 2,800,000. The prevalence of social media has caused the Gridiron Club to lift the “off-the-record” rule for its annual dinners. There is no stopping the flow of information!

7. Disgruntled church members are utilizing the internet as a way of stating their discontent. Bellevue Baptist in Memphis, Two Rivers in Nashville, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian in Florida have all had to deal with situations in which dissenting members aired their concerns on public websites. Church leaders claim the sites perpetuate gossip and do harm to the Body of Christ (I agree).

8. Vast amounts of religious materials are now available online. What used to be hard to find (early Christian writings, ancient sermons, commentaries) are now easily accessible and helpfully categorized.

9. Thousands of sermons – audio, video, manuscripts – from pastors are available for free. The upside? Prominent pastor-theologians like John Piper, W.A. Criswell, John MacArthur and others whose materials are a gift to the church. The downside? Rants from people like Steven Anderson (of YouTube fame) who pray for the president’s death.

We are living in the midst of a communications revolution. The only comparison that can be made is the invention of the printing press. Last time there was a communications revolution, a Reformation of the church took place. Will we see the new technology harnessed for the glory of God this time around?

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10 thoughts on “9 Examples of the Internet Changing Our World”

  1. Brian says:

    In answer to your final question, allow me to add #10 and #11.

    #10 As can be seen from the earlier entries, one MUST become famous somehow. The internet can get you there. Do stupid and promiscuous things and post them online. Be a Tila Tequila or a YouTube buffoon, and be famous for NOTHING.

    #11 Internet porn. Alas, the worst contribution the internet has made in “changing the world.”

    If the internet is to be “harnessed for the glory of God,” how’s that gonna happen? Self governance? Government control? Revival? The genie is out of the bottle.

  2. RJ says:

    I enjoyed this post but I don’t think of most of them as being “world changing”. You are a relatively young man (probably born in the 80’s so your view of world changing is probably different than mine as I was one of the first babby boomers (born in 1946). When I was in college there was no such thing as laptops, calculators, or email. The current crop of college students could not even fathom going to classes without those things today!

    We Christians have to get on board with all new technologies that surface in order to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the masses. We can’t rely on 19th century techniques in the 21st century. Of course I am preaching to the choir here as you have been blogging much longer than I have. Thanks for your contributions.

  3. Trevin Wax says:


    I don’t mean that these examples are world-changing in and of themselves. Obviously, Susan Boyle or The Office would not be world-changing. But I used these examples to show how powerful a force something like YouTube has become.

    And Brian, you’re right. Internet pornography is a horrible plague.

  4. RJ says:

    Trevin, I know you didn’t mean it as such. I was just teasing you ;-).

    Keep up the good work of advancing God’s kingdom on earth. If I remember right you are about to finish up your Master’s degree from seminary? Any future plans yet?

  5. Jason Sadler says:

    I’m okay with the awesome wedding video beating me, but Susan Boyle and Julie Child…. crap. I gotta step up my shirt wearing game!

    All joking aside, thanks for adding me to the list – very cool.

  6. Trevin Wax says:

    Thanks, Jason. I admire your creativity!

    RJ, I am hoping to continue serving in a local church and am looking to doing a PhD in New Testament.

  7. Mich says:

    So in 600 years we’ve “progressed” from the Printing Press to Twitter!


  8. The Internet is bigger than the printing press AND sliced bread. Think about it: the printing press changed the way we learned. Sliced bread changed the way we lived. The Internet did both. . . faster.

    I love watching Gary Vaynerchuk for inspiration regarding how the Internet can be used (just watch out for the language in some of them). Now. . . for Christians to use it? We certainly used the printing press, but I’m not sure we’re stepping up with the Internet (yet).

    I think this big question goes beyond blogs. It’s not just about writing and putting it out there. It’s about engaging, getting invovled with people. That’s why Christianity spread like crazy in the first century. Everyone talked to everyone. Everyone knew each other. The Internet’s doing that again – taking us out of the anonymous world.

    That’s how you and I need to change our thinking if we’re going to really exploit the Internet to it’s potential. I’m excited about it though.

    Great post – some funny stuff to remember and consider.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    1. John S says:

      I agree, I would put it as the internet has forever(?) changed the way people relate. Or perhaps the way they don’t. It’s transforming society at the relational level, how and with whom we associate. Among other things (including living in completely fake worlds) the anonymous, or semi-anonymous, nature of the web allows people to say things they wouldn’t say otherwise. Or at least not in the same way. As with other examples above this could be good or bad, though I suspect it is trending toward the end of civilization.

      eg: moments ago I walked past four adult students standing within feet of each other in front of a campus building. All feverishly texting or surfing. Busy comminicating but oblivious to the people within arms length. Later today I’ll go to the grocery store and respond to someone who was not talking to me. A cyberworld pushing beyond the bounds of a computer screen?

  9. ben says:

    suggested notable mentions:
    Matt Harding- in his “Where the hell is Matt?” shows that really bad dancing can travel very far- very far to where it can be replicated in other cultures

    Psy- “Gangnam Style” is the first video to reach 1 billion viewers on Youtube

    Flash mobs and internet memes

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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