November 17, 2013
Your Neighbor’s Invisibility Cloak
I want to start off this blog by paying homage to J.K. Rowling. She is the creator of the magical world that enhanced and forever changed my childhood. Then I want to send out some love to my spirit animal, Hermione Granger, and my forever hero, Albus Dumbledore.
I want to emphasize that I still believe my invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was stolen by Dobby the elf. If it ever arrives I am fully prepared to sit in class with a bunch of 12-year-olds to make up lost time. I have magical potential, gosh dang it!
One of the great things about the Harry Potter series is the surrounding “fandom.” Rowling managed to sweep all of us into her magical world and foster an unknown passion for wands, Quidditch, as well as many other things. I love the intricacies of the books and the purity that permeates her story-telling style. I longed to slip between the pages and join my favorite characters.
I wanted to be chosen for Gryffindor House, meet Fred and George Weasley, and possess my own invisibility cloak. I would have never been as daring as Harry and his friends; I am a chicken at heart. However, I am interested in observing the world without the lens of my presence.
Harry utilized his cloak for covert, late night escapades. He was usually entangled in life or death scenarios that required hard-to-get information. I doubt most of us live in a world where that is necessary. Maybe it is just me, but despite my best efforts, I do not uncover conspiracies on a daily basis.
However, I think we all wonder about the mundane interactions. Many of us think we would enjoy observing others when we are not in the room. Maybe this plays into our culture’s narcissism. We assume that we must be occasionally be a topic of conversation amongst others. Perhaps it plays into our insecurities. We are unsure how others perceive us. Regardless, a personal invisibility cloak would remove the filter that we all love to hate and hate to love.
A personal invisibility cloak would be much different than the “invisible technologies” that the military hopes to develop. Anyone could purchase and use it. So, let’s pretend that the elusive invisibility cloak was readily available. How would this change our society and interactions with others?
We would be forced to conduct all conversations as if someone else was present. This would be worse than the privacy erosion due to the digital age. Texting already allows for secret conversations whilst the subject is in the room. A cloak would allow a tangible person to lurk and listen. There would be minimal inhibitions. You could truly understand how others saw you.
Or could you? A cloak is only good for uncovering truth if one person possesses it. If this “personal item” is available to everyone, then everyone is aware that they are being monitored. They will adjust their interactions accordingly.
Harry’s cloak was only useful because he was one of the few wizards with the item. If we were to develop invisibility technology, access must be limited or the usefulness is nullified. Your neighbor’s invisibility cloak makes your cloak next to worthless. We can’t all be sleuthing around, or there won’t be anyone to spy on!
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