Harry Potter, Social Networking and Things Not Changing

I just read the end of the final Harry Potter book for the second time.  Well, listened to really, as it was read as a bedtime story floating through the house as the evening wound down.  I still think the epilogue is pretty feeble with the principle characters marrying their high school sweethearts and having babies, but hearing it for a second time made me think of a few things.  First, I think it’s fitting and real that Harry would become the thing that he never had and always desired – a loving parent.  Second, the epilogue speaks to something that I think has made the books incredibly popular, particularly among children – the comforting fantasy that the people you care about will surround you always.

The Wizarding World is a small one, it seems, where everyone seems to be on a first name basis.  With the magic of technology through social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, we create our own special worlds, ones that seem large and connected but that are still manageable and familiar.  I’ve always had a tough time digesting these online social networks.  Too often, they tend towards the worst kind of collective consciousness – not where individual consciousness is collected to reverberate, ignite, and react, but where we laze towards a single consciousness where the same language, ideas, and inside jokes abound.  It gets tiring hearing the same in-town drama over-and-over at a party, let alone regurgitated the next morning in a flurry of digital messages.

The thing that I like the most about the social networks is less hearing from people who are close and constant, and more from those who are distant.  I like the message from the person I’ve known since high school and still manage to see every few years.  I like reading someone’s words, and feeling the gentle fingerprint that underlies them.  I like the rush of excitement and energy that I get from reading someone’s new ideas, what they’re working on, what they’ve just made.  And, I like to see someone’s profile, to see the latest version of themselves, and all the things that haven’t changed.