Sunday, December 10, 2023

Protect your children from the National Elf Service

I have long suspected I shall live to see the fall of Western civilisation - possibly by next Thursday.

Two Christmases ago, Liberal England linked to an article on the sinister side of the sudden rise of the Elf on the Shelf - or Santa's Nark, as I prefer to call it:

Through play, children become aware about others’ perspectives: in other words, they cultivate understandings about social relationships. The Elf on the Shelf essentially teaches the child to accept an external form of non-familial surveillance in the home when the elf becomes the source of power and judgment, based on a set of rules attributable to Santa Claus. Children potentially cater to The Elf on the Shelf as the “other,” rather than engaging in and honing understandings of social relationships with peers, parents, teachers and “real life” others.

What is troubling is what The Elf on the Shelf represents and normalizes: anecdotal evidence reveals that children perform an identity that is not only for caretakers, but for an external authority (The Elf on the Shelf), similar to the dynamic between citizen and authority in the context of the surveillance state. Further to this, The Elf on the Shelf website offers teacher resources, integrating into both home and school not only the brand but also tacit acceptance of being monitored and always being on one’s best behaviour--without question.

By inviting The Elf on the Shelf simultaneously into their play-world and real lives, children are taught to accept or even seek out external observation of their actions outside of their caregivers and familial structures. Broadly speaking, The Elf on the Shelf serves functions that are aligned to the official functions of the panopticon. In doing so, it contributes to the shaping of children as governable subjects.

You laughed, didn't you?

But look what I saw in a local shop the other day. That's right, an Elf Surveillance Camera.

The packaging says 'Shh! It's a dummy!' - presumably you're not meant to tell your children that. But how long before real cameras are sold under the Elf banner, linked to Ofsted HQ and hacked by the Russians and Chinese?

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