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The New Starbucks Cups and The Seductive Ease of Internet Judgement

By Genevieve Burgess | Social Media | November 8, 2015 |

By Genevieve Burgess | Social Media | November 8, 2015 |

This weekend Starbucks revealed their new holiday cups. Instead of featuring a seasonal design, the cups this year are a simple cranberry color with the white and green Starbucks logo in the center. Like this:


Nice, right? Simple, but if you’re a Christmas person those are still clearly Christmas colors. Not a bad way to carry around over-priced flavored coffee beverages, overall. Unless, of course, you are one of the people who believe that 10 million viewers of a Facebook post insisting that these cups are proof that Starbucks hate Jesus. Obviously. And from there it’s just snowballed to multiple pieces on multiple outlets, a hashtag, and all sorts of people who are not materially affected by the design of Starbucks cups all of a sudden having very strong opinions about them one way or the other.

And look, these are the kind of things that are easy to get “outraged” about on the internet one way or the other. It’s easy to find “proof” of the so-called “War on Christmas” if that’s what you want to find. It’s easy to find examples of people shoving their religious holiday down the throats of their secular compatriots if that’s what you want to find. But on a person to person level how does any of this affect us? If a neighbor told me they weren’t going to shop at Starbucks because those cups mean they hate Christmas, I’d probably put on a vaguely concerned and bewildered look, say “Ok, then” and move the conversation along to the weather. It’s not the stupidest reason I’ve ever heard for someone to not frequent a store anymore, and there’s nothing wrong with someone choosing to withhold their money from a corporation for any reason at all. Even one as misguided as “I want my personal religious observances specifically recognized and validated by secular corporations.”

But the impersonal nature of the internet makes it easy to scoff and quip, to pass judgement, and seek out rebuttals and get things under our skin the way they might not in a passing conversation. And if you happen to know someone who really wants to press the issue, who genuinely believes that global corporate entities like Starbucks should behave in accordance with religious doctrine, you can point out that the chairman and CEO of Starbucks is Jewish and so if he really ran his company according to his religious observances, all Starbucks would be closing before sundown from December 6th to 14th. It’s one thing to believe that one’s religious affiliation should inform how they run their business, it’s another thing to believe that YOUR religious affiliation should inform how SOMEONE ELSE runs theirs.

And then hopefully we can get back to more productive discussions. Like which side of the great Pumpkin Spice divide we happen to fall on.

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Genevieve Burgess is a Features Contributor for Pajiba. You can follow Genevieve Burgess on Twitter.