I’ve had this blog for almost 3 years now, and it’s strange how few times I’ve mentioned Harry Potter. So I’ve decided to dedicate a whole post to it in order to fill the incredibly large and conspicuous gap that is the lack of HP on this blog – and attempt to explain why that gap exists in the first place. This is a very long post. Thank you in advance to those who make it through. There’s a special prize for you at the end.
I think the lack of me talking about HP is because it has had such a huge impact on me. Like, in my brain it’s just a given that this blog probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Harry Potter, but I’ve never acknowledged that fact in writing because it’s too deeply seated. If I were to make a list of things that have “made me who I am” so to speak, Harry Potter would surely be on it. I know many people have stories of how Harry Potter saved them from really terrible and dark places in their lives. I don’t have a story like that. I am fortunate to have had a very pleasant life, but at the same time, I can’t imagine it without Harry Potter. Here’s my story:
I actually put down Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone after trying to read it in 3rd grade for the first time. The first chapter was so confusing. There was a cat reading a map? And a guy driving to work watching this cat? What does this have to do with anything? I think my reading skills at that point weren’t good enough…but a few months later I pressed on and tried again. Here’s a picture of me from third grade:
Adorable, right? So this story wouldn’t be complete without my brother, who was ahead of me in reading the series because he was 4 years older than me (he still is 4 years older than me…). I basically copied what my brother did in many aspects of my life because I looked up to him so much (I better tone down the adorable in this post or it’ll just be too much). Anyway, he read Harry Potter, I read Harry Potter. A few things I remember from those early years: one of my friends came to school in a Hedwig tee-shirt and I was so jealous that we had one of those I-love-Harry-Potter-more-than-you-love-Harry-Potter fights. It was decidedly not adorable. Another moment I remember distinctly was coming to the realization that Lupin was a werewolf. Oops, spoiler alert. If you didn’t know that, please stop reading my blog and enjoy the sun on your skin after all those years under that rock of yours. I was in my mom’s minivan reading the 3rd book, my brother in the passenger seat, and I in the back. I gasped. And my brother made fun of me for not realizing it earlier. Excuse me for being 12 years old and not knowing my Latin.
Anyway, around the time of junior high school (about the 5th book), I discovered MuggleNet.com. If I were to go back in time and tell my 7th-grade self that my 24-year-old self would be working for MuggleNet.com, I would scream and jump and then have a heart attack because my overly hyper active 7th-grade heart wouldn’t be able to take it. (Oh yeah, I work at MuggleNet on the content team – which basically means I update pages on the site to reflect new information. Sometimes I also work on pages that are not well organized and try to make them better *cough* wizard rock page *cough*). I listened to MuggleCast religiously and then discovered wizard rock, which became an obsession because it happened to have a home on my other junior high obsession: Myspace. (Aside: my Myspace was the shit. I took great pride in matching my background to my profile pic to my song, etc. under a cohesive and adorable theme). Additionally, I hung out around various HP forums, including the official Harry Potter Warner Bros. forum, which was a giant cluster-fuck of people posting about random Potter-related things at every time of the day. Honestly, those forums were so crowded, it was more of a chat room. Here’s a screen shot, courtesy of the Wayback Machine, for those wanting a scroll down memory lane:
While we’re at it, why not also click here to refresh your memory on the awesomeness that was the old J.K. Rowling website. Remember checking every day to see if that damn door would open? If some new clue or hint at information would be revealed? Or just plain staring at the screen for 5 minutes until the spider walked by again because you kept missing it and needed to click on it to get that damn Easter egg? Good times.
It was the happy circumstance that the rise of the internet, our own comings-of-age (coming-of-ages?), and the release of the books coincided so beautifully and made my generation fall in love with Harry Potter to create one of the greatest fandoms in the history of fandom. My favorite part of being in the HP fandom is the community: people from all over the world connecting through this story, through our computer screens. I found my own niche on a site called Fantasy Worlds, which is also no longer around. Here’s another Wayback machine screenshot:
I still remember the friends I made there, who were mostly from the UK, as it was a UK site (I’m not even sure how I originally found it). It was a small forum, with only a handful of active members, but that’s what made it so special (invisiblegirl, Fiona, Jamson, Punk~Hobbit, anybody, if you’re out there reading this, it’s me, MagicalEm!). I was also a member of Immeritus, the Sirius Black fan site, which is actually still live, but I’m assuming has gone quiet. These sites solidified my identity as a Potterhead and citizen of the internet, and that was just the beginning.
Even after the books were finished, the fandom lived on in other ways and still lives on today. People have literally written books about the development of the HP fandom because its scope is so enormous (I highly suggest Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli). For instance, many of those in the HP fandom later took to YouTube, creating fan communities of their own. Fandoms grew and intersected (exhibit A: Nerdfighteria). LeakyCons continued, then stopped, and are now continuing again. Some wrock bands have gone silent, while others are still going strong. There’s the Harry Potter Alliance. I mean, THE HARRY FREAKIN’ POTTER ALLIANCE. Which also reminds me of Starkid! The list goes on! It was one gigantic snowball effect of awesome.
This shows how much everything comes back to Potter. It was the moment that I, and many others like me, decided that being unironically enthusiastic about stuff (to paraphrase Hank Green) is actually ok. Not only is it ok, but it should be celebrated together as a community. We could all let our nerd flags fly and not care about the Muggles who didn’t understand. It was an awakening as a generation and a huge reason I am the person I am now, and I don’t feel as if I’m exaggerating when I say that. I wouldn’t have this blog without it; I wouldn’t be pursuing my library science degree without it…I could continue, but by now I think you get the idea.
Whenever I’m asked what my favorite book is, I can never give an answer. My gut instinct is always to say “Harry Potter,” but I never do, because it’s way more than a book to me. It’s a world and a community and an experience and a part of my life. Not discussing HP on this blog never felt like a gap because it is the reason I am here blogging anyway; it’s obvious, it’s behind everything. There you have it. The elephant in the room has been addressed and now I feel satisfied going on with my life. Thank you for reading.
I said there was going to be a prize at the end. There really isn’t. Just a polite Dumbleclap for those who made it: