There was a lot of chatter over Christmas this year about the Elf on a Shelf phenomenon, particularly after leftist activists got huffy and decided Elf on a Shelf needed to be canceled.
So what is Elf on a Shelf? “The elf isn’t a very old tradition, as far as Christmas traditions go,” reports Karen Townsend on HotAir. “It began in 2005 when Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell wrote a Christmas story for children. It was illustrated by Coe Steinwart. The story is written in rhyme and explains how elves help Santa Claus know who is naughty and nice. From Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, an elf visits a family to keep an eye on the children and report back to Santa on their behavior. After each night’s visit with Santa, the elf is found in a different spot the next morning. Children look for the elf each morning and are told not to touch it, as its magic will disappear.”
Cute, eh? What a sweet little story for children (and an extra help for Mom and Dad to keep kids’ behavior in check leading up to Christmas).
But the joyless leftists – whose mission in life is to find offense in everything – disagree. The ACLU, as well as some other privacy and civil-rights organizations, doesn’t like the Elf on a Shelf. The reason? They find the surveillance habits of elves and Santa to be invasive, creepy and even downright dangerous. After all, why should children be subject to behavioral modification based on mythical beings whose eyes are invisible but whose omniscient monitoring is constant and never-ending?
“The ACLU makes the elves into nefarious characters acclimating children into accepting the premise that they are constantly under surveillance by an authority figure,” writes Townsend. “Some psychologists say Elf on the Shelf encourages lying to children. They say the elves make children gullible. That’s a pretty big guilt trip to put on a make-believe character who is only in the family’s life for a few weeks each year.”
Albert Fox Cahn with the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project told the New York Times, “No one should be looking at you in your bedroom without consent. There is a cost to normalizing surveillance, even in the most adorable ways.”
I’m sure you can see where this is going.
I find it hilarious that leftists and so-called privacy organization can object to a storybook character when they’re busy pushing real, honest-to-goodness surveillance everywhere – including childrens’ bedrooms without consent.
Government, public schools and Big Tech are normalizing surveillance. From their earliest days, children are trained to accept constant, unceasing monitoring as just a fact of life. COVID has been the ultimate excuse to ramp up this scrutiny. Remote schooling, Zoom calls and of course personal electronics means children are never able to escape the eye of Big Brother. The Internet of Things means this surveillance is deep, constant and omnipresent. Children are being groomed to see this as normal. But the ACLU is worried about a toy elf?
And of course, it’s not just children who are being monitored. It’s everyone. Technological advancements means cellphone providers are able to obtain very specific data on their users’ whereabouts. “So the technology knows when you are at church, or at home, at a library, a theater or a political event,” notes this article.
The ubiquitous smartphones have become “de facto snitches, offering up a steady stream of digital location data on users’ movements and travels,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead. “Added to that, police are tracking people’s movements by way of license plate toll readers; scouring social media posts; triangulating data from cellphone towers and WiFi signals; layering facial recognition software on top of that; and then cross-referencing footage with public social media posts, all in an effort to identify, track and eventually round us up. This is what it means to live in a suspect society.”
Bottom line, you are being tracked – constantly and without your permission – at all time.
And that’s when you leave your house. Indoors, it’s even worse because the Internet of Things goes beyond the ridiculous into the dangerous. Smart lights, for example, aren’t just a spiffy fun techy addition to your home. The infrastructure exposes your home network to the wider web, which in turn embeds security and privacy concerns. Roomba maps out your home’s footprint. Siri or Alexa monitor your conversation. By using smart technology, we forfeit privacy and autonomy.
And what about digital currency? I’m not even talking about cryptocurrency, but ordinary daily bank transactions and PayPal purchase and credit card use. Every time digital money changes hands, there is a record of what you bought, and when, and where.
Thanks to the almost limitless powers between the unholy alliance of government and Big Tech, the actual “naughty or nice” list has never been easier to obtain, or more thorough. “This creepy new era of government/corporate spying – in which we’re being listened to, watched, tracked, followed, mapped, bought, sold and targeted – makes the NSA’s rudimentary phone and metadata surveillance appear almost antiquated in comparison,” observes Whitehead on Redwave Press.
We are being tracked based on health status, facial recognition, behavior (including the new and exciting “predictive behavior“), tone of voice, digestive output (euphemistically termed an “anal print“), spending and consumer activities, public activities, social media activities, telephone and online activities, driving habits and mail, among much else.
“Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by a vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops,” concludes Whitehead.
Here’s the critical difference: That Elf on the Shelf just pretends to monitor you. Any surveillance is entirely mythical. But Big Tech truly does monitor you. Elf on a Shelf is naughty, but Alexa is nice? Don’t make me laugh.
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