If any of your Facebook friends are parents with small “the Easter bunny is totally real”-aged children, then you know what the Elf on the Shelf meme is. It haunts us all on every social media channel like a creepy holiday version of the Slender Man. To make matters worse, some academics argue it conditions young children for life in a totalitarian police state. Good thing we’re all mature, unimpressionable adults who won’t be swayed by a terrifying doll dressed in Christmas colors. Right?
Depends on what we mean by the words “mature” and “unimpressionable” — especially when purveyors of Elf on the Shelf memes blur the lines between “cool/kinda funny joke” and “sketchy tradition for people with poor judgement.” Are we supposed to teach kids about right and wrong? Yes. Should we do it by scaring the sh*t out of them with a frightening toy? Probably not, but it’s already too late.
The 2009 children’s book and accompanying toy have already become the stuff of holiday nightmares. Here are a few of our favorites:
When the Elf could burn everything to the ground.
The Disaster Girl meme is horrifying in and of itself. (Adults have films like Carrie and Firestarter to thank for that.) When combined with the Elf on the Shelf meme, however, the fear of one smaller than yourself possessing terrible abilities like pyromancy and telekinesis simply becomes more palpable.
Besides, whoever keeps posing the little guy in awkward positions for their children’s delight probably deserves to have everything burn to the ground.