Oooh I need to Harry Potter rant again (I’m so sorry, apparently I’m thinking many thoughts.)
I just saw a post that observed and pointed out the slightly problematic facts surrounding Muggle vs. wizarding advancement and capabilities. The Muggle world is substantially more developed than the Wizarding world; and yet the Muggle world is consistently made fun of. Why do you need owls when you’ve got cellphones? Yeah, they’ve got moving pictures but we have film footage and movies and those move too. It’s very puzzling to think that these worlds can live side by side, with one half always thinking themselves superior, when in reality, a lot of their methods are outdated.
I’ve got a theory though, so hear me out. I do believe that Wizards and Witches have always been superior to Muggles, in terms of capability. Magic has made their lives easier and has done so for centuries. When reading the books, you notice that Muggles and Wizarding folk live apart from one another. They do not interact, they are not even allowed to interact. Sure, this one isn’t the fault of Muggles, since they aren’t even aware of the existence of magic, much less magical folk. And if anyone is made aware, Obliviator squads are there to make sure any collateral damage is taken care of.
But the Muggle world was never as advanced as it is now. It’s certainly been an upward battle and with electricity and technology, a lot more has happened within the last twenty years than ever before (especially with the emergence of consumerist society).
Because of the emerging conflicts between Muggles and Wizards, resulting in deaths and persucution (see Witch burnings), usually - as we find out in PoA - with innocent parties suffering, the Ministry had to come up with some way to take control of the situation. And so the International Statute of Secrecy was drawn up in 1689; its sole purpose being, to make sure that Muggles and magical folk stay apart and remain apart. This catered well to Pureblood folk - and I imagine Pureblood mania only grew more and more hysterical as the Wizarding world became more condensed - who obviously advocated for a barrier between “them” and “us”. This would also further stereotypes about Muggles being inferior, being worse off, being rather silly, pathetic creatures. Even Muggle-loving Wizarding families, like the Weasleys, are grossly ignorant of how their society works. Everything baffles and confuses and amazes them because they haven’t been allowed to interact. Any interaction is frowned upon and endangers the Wizarding community, according to the Statute.
So while I’m sure that in 1689 Wizards were FAR more superior in terms of advancement and their ability to use magic to cater to them and make their lives easier, I think it can be argued that at the turn of the century, Muggle development started speeding up. The amount of breakthroughs being made in the fields of science, philosophy, art, and mathematics within the 20th and 21st centuries, are truly awe-inspiring. However, it should be noted that Wizards remained mostly oblivious to these developments. With a few minor exceptions, ie. for cars, trains, and other methods of transportation, few Muggle inventions were ever adopted and if they were adopted, I wager that it took a while for them to be accepted.
Wizards and Witches in Harry Potter are well known to be rather stubborn when it comes to tradition. They do not like adapting, they do not like change, they do things and believe in things because they’ve always been done in a certain way (with regards to House Elf enslavement in particular).
I believe that in the last 25-30 years, which would also incorporate Harry’s school years, Muggle society overtook the Wizarding one. Cellphones just are easier to use for contact than owls could ever be, but one must consider that cellphones are still a fairly recent invention. And they certainly weren’t quite as wide spread during the early 90s as they are now. Bearing all this in mind, I believe that their ignorance, fear, and slight arrogance, kept Wizards from noticing that Muggle society had become so advanced. Any gadgets made will have blown right over their heads. I think this is the reason for Wizards making fun of and ridiculing Muggle society. They have the old 17th century picture in their minds, and they live relatively sheltered lives in their wizarding communities, prior to their induction at Hogwarts. Some probably only met Muggles (well, Muggle-born children) at Hogwarts for the first time, after having been told all their lives that Wizards are so much better. So it’s no surprise that their worldview is slightly tainted.
What I’m trying to get to is that, yes, while we know that firearms, cellphones, video cameras, the internet, and credit cards are all very advanced and superior to things like owl post, that does not mean that Wizards and Witches were also aware of this. This knowledge simply wasn’t privy to them because of the way they have been kept separate for centuries.
Exactly. We might be talking about the same post (or not) but recently I’ve seen a post appear on my dash that mostly focused on this “issue.” I’ve found it quite ridiculous. Really, it even gives wrong canonical information and presents them as “proofs.” I’ve been meaning to write a contradictory one for a while. But you expressed it more eloquently than I ever could. So thank you for this post.