To teach children how to own their own domains and make their own websites might seem a small thing. In many cases it will be a small thing. Yet it serves as a reminder that the online world does not merely exist, but is built, and built to meet the desires of certain very powerful people—but could be built differently. Given the importance of online experience to most of us, and the great likelihood that its importance will only increase over time, training young people to do some building themselves can be a powerful counterspell to the one pronounced by Zuckerberg, who says that the walls of our social world are crumbling and only Facebook’s walls can replace them. We can live elsewhere and otherwise, and children should know that, and know it as early as possible. This is one of the ways in which we can exercise “the imperative of responsibility,” and to represent the future in the present.
I don’t have much to add to Jacobs’ words, but I will say that I deeply appreciate his emphasis on people being able to live in ways besides the ones prescribed for us by the tech overlords. The cliche about how you’ll treat everything like a nail if all you have is a hammer can be extended: some of the most powerful companies are in the business of manufacturing hammers. There are other tools out there — we just have to learn to use them.
Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org