Nicholas Sheltrown’s article, “Harry Potter’s World as a Morality Tale of Technology and Media” convinced me to revisit Harry Potter in a different light. Besides all the fun of entering a world of fantasies and magics, Sheltrown’s article draws our focus towards delving deeper into the world of Harry Potter to uncover and dissect the meanings of its embedded moral codes.
He quotes from the book, Half-Blood Prince, “If taken in excess, [Felix Felicis] causes giddiness, recklessness, and dangerous overconfidence … too much of a good thing, you know … highly toxic in large quantities.” (p.187) It is the utmost important that we know when and how to control our desire, if fails to do so, there is a grave danger that one might misuse the means – the technologies in the world of Muggles and magics in the world of wizard and witches – to serve one’s selfish and often short-sighted goals. In the world of wizards and witches, therefore, the teachers teach their students not to use magic, unless and until one really needs to use it – to defend oneself. Taking this moral lesson from the Harry Potter world and applying it to our muggle world, we are taught to be cautious and responsible, when employing the “tech-magics” to serve our needs. Though there are millions of things the technologies can do for us to make our lives easier and more convenient, there are yet even more troubling things they (or we can do with them) can do to pose threats to human existence. The author does not go to the extent of raising the issues on the Nuclear and Cyber wars ensued among the opposing countries around the world. But if we take it little further, we are to be warned that technologies have the potential to terminate the human races.
The World Hinges on The Press Button & The Enter Key
Another very important point Sheltrown raised in his article is how those at the tip of the social hierarchy pyramid can manipulated and cripple the wonders of the technologies – mostly to serve their vested interests. For instance, in Harry Potter, the department of ministry controls the content and publication of the Hogwarts’ news papers. By twisting and turning around the facts, the ministry recognizes the potential of the media, “to limit how consumers think about their government (ministry in the case of Harry Potter), economy, society, and fellow citizens.” (Sheltrown, 62)
Watkins, on the other hand, paints a rather positive picture of the fruits of the advancement in technologies. In particular, he equates an an upward graph of social media literacy among the younger generations to an indirect empowerment of the citizens – power to keep the government accountable, power and the means to question its authority, power to choose the candidates of their choice and in the extreme cases, the power to topple the power structure, if it fails to serve its purpose.
In a nutshell, both the articles cover on the potential of the technologies and social media to change the world in two different ways – for better or for worse.