Mindlessly surfing the internet is like staring at the Mirror of Erised from the Harry Potter books. (Minor Harry Potter spoilers ahead.)
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Mindless surfing vs the Mirror of Erised
My bro shared me a Reddit post on /r/nosurf the other day.
Here's the full post (with a few typos fixed):
Mindless surfing is like the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter
For those of you who haven't read Harry Potter, the Mirror of Erised is a mirror which shows the deepest desires of a person. In the story, Harry finds the mirror and sees his parents in it. He keeps returning every day until Dumbledore gently tells him to stop doing so.
This mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible. It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
This is a great parallel to mindless internet surfing. We watch our deepest desires on the internet like being rich, falling in love, living a certain lifestyle or even being in another country. I've spent a lot of time browsing nice apartment pics, vlogs, or even street view of nice cities where I wanna live, not because of curiosity or exploration but because of a desire to see my dream. This is actually preventing me from living fully and actually working to achieve my dreams in the first place.
I just found it interesting how similar the two of these are.
Longer Harry Potter quote
I recently started reading the Harry Potter books for the first time.
The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, has 332 pages (Bloomsbury, 2014 edition), but I read it in just 5 days. It was that good!
The first book also introduces the Mirror of Erised. From pages 229–230:
'Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?'
Harry thought. Then he said slowly, 'It shows us what we want … whatever we want …'
'Yes and no', said Dumbledore quietly. 'It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.
'The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don't you put that admirable Cloak back on and get off to bed?'
Harry stood up.
'Sir – Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?'
'Obviously, you've just done so,' Dumbledore smiled. 'You may ask me one more thing, however.'
'What do you see when you look in the Mirror?'
'I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woollen socks.'
'One can never have enough socks,' said Dumbledore. 'Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.'
It was only when he was back in bed that it struck Harry that Dumbledore might not have been quite truthful. But then, he thought, as he shoved Scabbers off his pillow, it had been quite a personal question.