Hogwarts — the Modern-Day Cabin in the Woods?
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” – Walden, Henry David Thoreau
When a student arrives at Hogwarts, the technology that exists in the Muggle world becomes an unnecessary piece of equipment. Not only will the technology, say a smartphone for example, not work because of magical interference, but it may not always be needed either. After all, technology is the art of making things easier. Witches and wizards do not need things to make life easier because they have magic to do this for them.
Harry went to Hogwarts during the 1990s when technology was a big deal but nothing compared to what it is in today’s society. No one had unlimited access to the World Wide Web, and no one had smartphones for instant communication with friends across the pond.
But in today’s world, it can be hard to pry ourselves away from our technology because we are so dependent of its conveniences. Technology has greatly changed the way we complete tasks and communicate with one another. Kids are raised watching movies and playing games on their parents’ smartphones or tablets. By the time they reach the age of 11, these things will be so deeply ingrained in their day-to-day life that I imagine taking them away would create a bit of tension. While wizarding families may not use technology, a Muggle child will most definitely use them, which begs the question — what happens when they learn they are accepted into a school of magic but can’t bring their iPhone with them?
There are a variety of responses that could be plausible. There is the very real possibility that a child would accept that they are magical and feel nothing when giving up their technology for 9 months. After all, learning you are a witch or wizard is fantasy becoming reality. Suddenly these amazing things exist that only appeared in story books and films with special effects. Some children may embrace this with open arms.
But some may have a more challenging time of it. Going to Hogwarts and getting used to life without the very tools they’ve grown up using would be a big challenge. It is a complete game change. Where in the Muggle world kids use pencils and smart keyboards, they will use medieval quills and parchment paper. Muggle children will be used to instant communication with their parents. Now they must write letters and are entirely dependent on an owl to deliver them in a manner that is far from instant.
The only real-life comparison to this idea is kids or adults going away, often to a religious camp or retreat, for a week and having to leave their technology behind. They are told that phones, iPods, handheld videogame consoles, etc. are not allowed. This is done to allow them to detox from technology and instead be present and focus on the world around them and what is going on in the present vs. what is on a screen. A week of this often times leaves people feeling refreshed.
Perhaps Hogwarts would unknowingly become this place of retreat away from glowing screens. Technology isn’t a bad thing. Without the technology of the Internet, the Harry Potter fandom would not be what it is today. But it is important to get away from it sometimes, and Hogwarts seems to be the place to do so. Kids would have to separate themselves for most of the year from their technological devices and thus are forced to interact with the world around them. In many ways it is similar to Henry David Thoreau choosing to live in the woods away from the bustle of modern-day society. Hogwarts would be a way to experience a different sort of lifestyle.
What do you think of this idea? Does it seem plausible, or do you think Hogwarts would somehow allow the use of technology in the modern era? What are your thoughts on technology and its effects? Is it a good or a bad thing? Or both? Let us know in the comments below!