Christmas is a time to display goodwill to your fellow man and spread holiday cheer. But it's also a time for harsh judgment and criticism — at least, it is if the internet has anything to say about it.
That's what mom Emma Tapping found when she posted a photo of her kids' Christmas presents on Instagram, only to find that the photo had gone viral as a consummate example of Yuletide excess.
When the 35-year-old blogger and mother of three posted a photo of a mini-mountain of gifts for her family, she never expected that it would incite rage from random strangers online. And yet, after sharing the image on Instagram, Tapping discovered it had been reposted on Facebook as a meme decrying materialism, shaming her for buying her children "too many" gifts.
Yes, Christmas present-shaming is a thing, apparently.
Tapping isn't alone in perhaps going a little overboard in buying presents for her kids. According to a YouGov U.K. survey, about 1 in 3 people in the U.K. actually go into debt while buying Christmas presents. Yet for some reason, Tapping was singled out and criticized for spending too much money and spoiling her kids. Strangers accused Tapping of indulging her own family without considering others, calling her children "spoiled brats" and sharing the photo of her mound of gifts more than 100,000 times.
A few people jumped in to defend Tapping, saying they'd give their own kids as much for the holidays if only they could.
Eventually, Tapping herself decided to speak out, telling several news outlets why she felt the anger directed at her was unwarranted. The gifts were bargains, she said, adding that she typically does her Christmas shopping throughout the year and rarely lavishes her kids with presents.
"Christmas to me is about kids and it is the one day you can spoil your kids," Tapping told the Daily Mail. "I don't care if you have got 50 [pence] or a million in the bank, make it what you can make it. I love the fact I can work hard all year to give my kids and my family this kind of Christmas. It is what we have always done and what we will continue to do."
Tapping also published follow-up posts on Facebook and Instagram, in which she clarified that she was really DGAF what you think about her gift-buying habits. Tapping went so far as to tell the world that you can "bet your grandma's nipples" she'll do the same thing next year (and that she'll have more photographic evidence as well).
While parents aren't often so explicitly critiqued for how they choose to indulge their children during the holidays, this wave of present-shaming wasn't entirely unprecedented. Kids and teens alike have faced their fair share of online outrage for being ungrateful at Christmas.
Why people get so upset about the way others spend their money during the month of December is somewhat unclear, but the wrath incurred by Tapping's gift pile does tell us something about rage in the Internet age: It can always feel personal, even when we have no idea what the hell we're talking about.