Over the past few years, the holidays have exploded with various online bonanzas, the reasons for which are so irritatingly “internet generation,” I’m almost hate-posting this entry right now. Aside from the typical Cyber Monday sales explosions, other explosions rooted directly in social media have paved the way for certain holiday trends to flourish for years to come. Probably the best example of this type of trend is the growing popularity (somehow) of the Motherfucking Elf on the Shelf. Without Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, or Pinterest, the Elf on the Shelf would’ve had a decent enough shelf life (heh), but he wouldn’t necessarily be competing on the Santa Claus level. He wouldn’t be up there with Rudolph, or Charlie Brown’s dinky tree, or even Elmo in the ’90s. He’d just be another dumb gimmick that gets passively trotted out during the holidays like a piece of mistletoe.
Let’s face it: If parents didn’t have hundreds of online friends to impress every day, setting up that stupid Elf to look like he’d drawn all over a child’s head would be utterly pointless (i.e. even more pointless than it already is). Staging elaborate scenes in the bathroom or on the kitchen table would be a waste of time. Sure, parents might still stage something funny for their kids — I’m not saying that parents who obsess over the Elf are doing it ALL for their adult friends — but the fact is, the Elf’s popularity has been egregiously catapulted by the internet’s interest. Or rather, by parents’ interest to show off their “creativity” to their friends and other Elf-loving parents, many of whom really don’t care. For every social platform that experiences a surge in popularity (like Pinterest), a product like Elf on the Shelf will follow (and never go away).
With that in mind, this year I wasn’t sure I wanted to be another cog in the Elf’s giant, soul-crushing machine. What am I, if not part of the problem? Is the Elf not already poised to win the 2016 election? At this point, even a blog post that talks shit about the Elf is an advertisement for the Elf. And yet despite that, the grinning little bastard is still worth reflecting on for a few seasonable reasons:
1. The Elf Is Inspiring Gold Star Parents