At the end of The Order of the Phoenix, Lord Voldemort, the arch-villain, possesses our young hero, Harry Potter, trying to destroy once and for all Harry’s mind and spirit. For awhile there, it doesn’t look too good. Harry sees that his powers make him kind of similar to Lord Voldemort. Harry has been feeling like he has been losing control over himself anyway. He feels weak.

But then, suddenly, something happens. With some prompting from the wise head of Hogwarts, Dumbledore, Harry remembers all of the people in his life who are always there by his side. They are always ready to defend him. He realizes that Lord Voldemort is truly the weak one. “I feel sorry for you,” Harry says. “You don’t know love or friendship.”

There’s more than one Lord Voldemort

In the Social Media world, there are a lot of Lord Voldemorts. There are all kinds of people out there who will try to tear you down, and they have all sorts of ways to do it. They can write a blog post saying how dumb you are. They can snark back to you in a comments section. They can flame your blog site. They can harass you on Twitter. Sometimes, people do this because they perceive that you’re a threat, just as Voldemort knows that Harry is a threat to him. Sometimes people are just mean-spirited. If your confidence is low, or if your own personal Lord Voldemort is a powerful person (however you define that), it can be pretty easy to believe what they are saying. “You’re right. I’m doing this all wrong. I stink. I smell of alder-berries.”

If you have a community, you can’t be taken down

Much like Harry realizes that he has a power Voldemort does not, you can come to the realization that you have a secret weapon too. That secret weapon is your community.

Now, I’m not saying that every time someone says something mean to you you go crying to your Twitter stream. However, if you build your community the way Harry built his – out of friendships, similar interests, common goals, and overlapping objectives – you soon find that insults hurled at you by people who don’t know you lose their potency. You have people who will pull you back if you start believing all of that nonsense. You have people who will cheer you up or who will tell you that you’re taking things too seriously.

Start building now

In my last post, I suggested ten ways that you can start carving out your own community. I really believe (although you can feel free to debate) that having a community you can depend on is the true difference maker in the Social Media world. There is so much competition. It’s so easy to misunderstand people. There is so much anxiety and bad feeling that leaks into peoples’ blogs and twitter streams. You need to have people around who have your back – and you need to return the favor. This is the weapon that will destroy your fear of Voldemort and change it into pity. Nothing makes him madder.

Whadya think, Mr. Potter?

Is community the game changer in this space? If not, what is? I’d love to hear your thoughts!